Paula and Jay Davis enrolled their kids in swim lessons because they wanted to keep them safe. “We lived on a lake so drowning was a real concern,” said Paula.
Two of their four children went through a water safety program and the other two took swim lessons. “From the time they were itty bitty, it’s been so important to us that they can swim.”
Last year, the Davis’ enrolled their three sons – now aged 13,11, and 10 - in the XTERRA Xticer because it seemed like a fun challenge. Designed for beginners of all ages, the XTERRA Xticer includes a 200-meter swim, a 10K mountain bike ride, and a 4.5K trail run.
Alex, Jack, and Porter are avid swimmers, lacrosse, and soccer players, so fitness wasn’t an issue, but the race was challenging because mountain biking and trail running were new to the boys.
“The boys had never mountain biked before,” said Paula, “And that course is tough! Jack fell off his bike and Alex kept dropping his chain, but they had so much fun they want to do it again this year. Kids feel proud when they can do hard things.”
Like all parents, Paula and Jay walk the narrow line of keeping their children safe, while not sheltering them so much that they miss out on growth experiences.
“Sometimes, in trying to be a great parent, we can inadvertently deprive our children of opportunities that can help them grow the most,” said Paula. “It’s all about walking the middle path.”
The day before the XTERRA Oak Mountain race, any racer is able to meet with the pros at get last minute tips at XTERRA University. Last year it was run by 2017 XTERRA Blackwater Champ Yaro Middaugh and his brother, 2015 XTERRA World Champ, Josiah.
“Personally, I've always enjoyed working with kids and challenging them to do something they didn't think they could achieve,” said Yaro, who was an elementary school teacher for 15 years before he started coaching full time.
Paula is also enthusiastic about the benefits parents receive when their children are in sports or outdoor activities. She notes that her kids have learned first hand how to make choices, keep commitments, and set priorities. It’s impossible to get homework finished, practice with a team, have a social life, and play video games for hours on end.
“We’ve always let them choose what they want to do,” said Paula. My daughter Emily tried lacrosse and hated it, so I’m never going to make her do that. At the same time, we try to teach them that if they make a commitment to being on a team, they need to honor that commitment. Because that’s how it is in life.”
“One thing I noticed is that my oldest, who's in 7th grade, has really learned how to delegate his time wisely. He’s the kind of kid who’s in advanced classes, playing lacrosse, running track, and swimming. He’s chosen to do all of these things and I told him he can try it as long as he doesn’t burn out.”
Through the act of balancing school and sports, Alex has learned not only how to figure it out, but how to be efficient with his work. “That’s a life skill,” said Paula.
Paula admits that sometimes it’s hard to keep the culture of technology from infringing on her children’s love of movement. “We limit electronics a lot,” she admits. “If it’s hard for adults to stay off their phones, then you know it’s also hard for kids.”
She believes that for children to be active, parents need to walk – or run – the walk. Paula is a competitive runner and her husband is an avid swimmer.
“We’ve been athletes all our lives and we knew that when we had kids, sports were something we wanted to teach them. We want them to have an active lifestyle too.”