Shalon Morris is a busy mom of three children. She has been married to her husband, Michael, for 16 years. They have 3 children, all who participate in sports – Daughter, Jansen (14) and sons Hudson (11) and Maximus (8). As a family, they enjoy camping and going to sporting events. As you’ll read, gymnastics is a huge commitment but Shalon and Michael are here to support their oldest daughter and Body Helix Junior Brand Ambassador, Jansen, in her goal of competing in college.
Body Helix (BH): Hi Shalon! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. We know that many parents of young athletes visit our site for both compression sleeves/wraps and educational information on injury prevention and management. Therefore, we thought it would be helpful to share some insight from you and other parents of our Junior Brand Ambassadors about what it takes to be the parent of a young, successful athlete. In addition, we want to get your thoughts on how you help to keep them healthy and injury free. So, to get started, tell us what sport your daughter, Jansen, is involved in.
Shalon Morris (SM): Jansen is a gymnast, which leaves little time for much else! She just finished her first season as a level 10 gymnast at WOGA Gymnastics.
BH: How long have you been a sports parent?
SM: I’ve been a ‘sports parent’ for as long as I can remember. Jansen started ‘mommy and me’ gymnastics at 18 months, and pretty much tried out every sport there was including karate, ice skating, soccer, baseball, and basketball before settling on gymnastics. Our sons also play sports including soccer, baseball and lacrosse.
BH: What do you enjoy most about being the parent of an athlete?
SM: I enjoy seeing my kids work hard to get better at their sport. I also love the friendships they form and the lessons they learn from working with others and supporting others, even when they may not do their best. Athletes will have great days and not-so-great days, and I think they are both incredibly beneficial in teaching children about life and how to handle various situations.
BH: What is the most difficult part of being the parent of an athlete?
SM: I truly feel like gymnastics is different from any other sport. Jansen started doing online school and 2x/day practices when she was in 4th grade. At the age of 10, she started training 32 hours a week. There is no ‘off season’ for gymnastics; Jansen trains year-round, 6 days a week. I’m not sure of any other sport that requires that level of time and commitment from an athlete – especially at such a young age. I’d say that the time and effort that gymnastics requires is the most difficult part – seeing your child miss out on birthday parties, sleepovers, and even family vacations at times is incredibly difficult. We constantly struggle with helping her maintain her gym/training life while still being a ‘normal’ kid.
BH: How do you support Jansen in her sport?
SM: We check in with her often and talk about how things are going at gym with her teammates and her coaches. It’s hard, but there are times where us being supportive means we have to be firm and push her – especially on days when she might not be feeling 100% or wants to skip gym to do something with friends. We’ve learned that it’s important that we remember that this is Jansen’s passion and Jansen’s choice. Her ultimate goal is to compete gymnastics in college, so we do all that we can to support that dream.
BH: Young athletes, just like any other athletes, can sustain injuries. What steps/precautions do you take to help Jansen stay healthy and injury free? (e.g. nutrition, training, self-care routines, stretching, rest, compression, etc)
SM: Injuries are inevitable in gymnastics. It’s not ‘if’ you’ll get injured, it’s ‘when will it happen?’ It is incredibly difficult to send your child off to practice when you know they are in pain, so we do all that we can to prevent injuries and if something should happen, we work to help her heal quickly. #1 for injury prevention in our books is proper sleep and nutrition. If a pain persists or prohibits her from training as she needs to, we have a great team to support Jansen including her sports medicine doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor and others who know her well and understand what gymnasts go through and the expectations of them.
Jansen has suffered from Osgood-Schlatters disease in her knees for years. A few years ago, it got so bad that we did not know if she was going to be able to continue doing gymnastics. At a competition, we ran across a Body Helix booth that caught our eye, so we stopped to talk to the person running the booth. Jansen tried on the Patella Helix Compression Sleeve and the look of joy on her face was priceless. We were in shock at her reaction and she insisted that she couldn’t even feel the pain in her knees at that time. We were a bit skeptical, but were willing to try just about anything to relieve her pain, so we bought a pair and 2 years later, she still suffers from Osgood’s, but it does not hinder her ability to train and progress as long as she wears her Body Helix compression sleeves.
BH: How do you support your child’s coach?
SM: We have learned that Jansen’s relationship with her coaches is key to her success. Because of this, we try to stay as ‘hands-off’ as possible and allow the coaches to do their job. We have a good relationship with her coaches and an open-line of communication, so if we ever have questions or concerns, we do not hesitate to talk to them about it.
BH: What’s one thing that has helped you the most in your role as a sports parent?
SM: Allowing Jansen to take the lead. At her level, we can’t do it for her. We can’t MAKE her go to practice and give full effort. As long as she loves this sport and wants to continue, she will push herself to grow and improve. When she stops doing that, then we’ll know she’s ready to move on to something else.