• At the 1992 Olympic Games in Calgary, which is located in western Canada, several members of speed skater Bonnie Blair’s family were in attendance to show support. One sign hanging in the audience section said, “Dear Aunt Bonnie, Skate Fast. Love, Brittany.” Brittany was Ms. Blair’s niece and perhaps her tiniest fan—she was only four-and-a-half-months’ old. The sign must have helped, for Aunt Bonnie won two gold medals.
• After Julie Foudy won an Olympic gold medal as a member of the United States women’s national soccer team, she enjoyed showing it off. One day, she showed it to a Federal Express delivery driver. A little later, a knock came at the door, and her regular mail carrier asked, “Is it true there’s a gold medal here?” A little after that, another knock came at the door. This time, it was a UPS delivery driver, who said, “I hear there’s an Olympic medal at this house.” Of course, her husband’s parents were proud that their daughter-in-law had won an Olympic medal. After a visit, her husband’s parents left behind a roll of film. Ms. Foudy had the film developed—the photographs all showed her husband’s parents posing with the medal in different rooms of the house.
• When Dominique Moceanu was just an infant, her parents decided to test her strength to see if she could become a skilled gymnast. They stretched out a clothesline, allowed her to grasp it with her hands, then let go of her. They were prepared to catch her if she let go of the clothesline, but she held on to it. This test of strength convinced them that Dominique could become a skilled gymnast and they made plans to help her get the training she needed to succeed in gymnastics. In 1996, she won a gold medal at the Atlanta Olympic Games as a member of the United States women’s gymnastics team.
• Canadian Elizabeth Manley won a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics. During her amateur career, her mother financially supported her, even going $26,000 into debt for her. Ms. Manley eventually turned professional, received a $50,000 bonus for signing with the Ice Capades, and immediately used the money to pay off her mother’s debt.
• Being a winner acts as an aphrodisiac—to fans. After figure skater Katerina Witt defeated Rosalynn Sumners for the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics Games, she received 35,000 love letters.
• Even as a child, Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Barbara McClintock was unconventional, and her parents were unconventional. Her father, a physician, didn’t believe in homework, figuring that if a child worked hard during school hours, the child should be able to pursue personal interests at home. Young Barbara often played hooky from school, with her parents’ full approval. Once, she disliked her schoolteacher, so she stayed home from school for an entire semester. On another occasion, a woman in the neighborhood scolded Barbara because she didn’t wear dresses and act like the other young girls. Barbara told her mother, who called the woman and told her, “Don’t ever do that again!”
• Andrew Tobias knows a couple of gay men who are raising a daughter who is trilingual. The gay men speak English and French around the house, and the babysitter speaks nothing but Spanish. Not allowing their daughter to watch TV, the gay men bought her instead a bunch of Disney videotapes—all in Spanish. For a long time, their daughter thought the TV set spoke only Spanish.
• When world-class gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi works with gymnasts in his gym near Houston, parents are allowed to watch their children—but only from either a balcony or from benches placed behind a large window. Why? Mr. Karolyi says, “I don’t go in their kitchen and advise them what kind of soup to make for dinner.”
• Experience has taught Beth Joiner, a children’s dance teacher, that kids say the most embarrassing things. For example, one young student told Ms. Joiner that the student’s father liked picking him up after dance class because he could see Miss Beth wearing her leotard.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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