No matter the sport or hobby, I know first hand that it is beneficial for children to be active starting from a young age. Playing a sport not only keeps your kids active, but it can also have multiple benefits for their futures.

“I became an athlete at a very young age,” said my father, Peter Kim, a former athlete. “Because of my experience and knowledge on the effects that it has had on my life, I knew that I wanted my children to be involved in some sort of activity or sports team at a young age. As they continue to grow as individuals, I can see their sport commitments pushing them on a good path.”

Emily Kim at a recital at age 13. Photo provided.

The only sport I was ever seriously involved with was figure skating. I started at the age of 6, and it took over my life until I quit at the age of 15. I’ve become the person I am because of my experience and my dedication to this sport. It not only helped me in a physical sense, but it helped me with social skills, discipline, time management and academic success.  

1. Physical Health

Figure skating takes an immense amount of physical strength. The physics behind throwing your body up into the air solely from the tip of a blade against the force of gravity and your body mass is just one challenge. Because I started so young, I’ve grown to know how my body tolerates food and exercise. My physical health has maintained throughout the years even after I quit, and I believe it’s because I have been used to being active since I was a kid.

2. Social Skills

Kids love to play. Whether it’s with their siblings or peers at school, kids like to have fun and spend as much time with their friends as possible. Being on a sports team will not only improve a child’s ability to play that sport, but it gives him or her the chance to experience and learn how to be around people. Even though figure skating is an individual sport, I was always surrounded by other girls and boys in the rink. My coaches had other students who I spent most of my time with. My best friend is someone I skated with, someone who I would have never met if I hadn’t started skating. Skating at such a young age taught me how to appropriately behave around other competitors and my coaches. These interactions continue to help me now.

3. Discipline

Being involved in any sport usually requires a coach. Throughout my years figure skating, I had four coaches. The last two, whom I spent most of my years with, were a husband and a wife. They have impacted my life in ways that neither my parents nor my teachers could have. Whether it was from the criticism or through the support, they made sure to discipline me, and I learned to accept it because I knew that was the only way I was going to improve. Discipline is something everybody should know and have, but many people don’t. Skating taught me this vital skill at a young age.  

4. Time Management

Being a child, going to school and spending four hours or more a day at the ice skating rink quickly taught me how to time manage. As supportive as my parents were, they made sure that my academics always came first. So I had to figure out on my own when to do my homework if I wanted to go to the rink. This has benefited me now in college because I know that school comes first. I also know that as I get older, I’m only going to have more responsibilities and obligations. But because I’ve managed my time since I was in elementary school, I know that I am going to be able to do it all.

5. Academic Success

Playing a sport involves dedication and hard work, principles which can be applied to schoolwork as well. I also apply the time management skills I learned from skating to school. Put school work first and then have fun — at least that’s what I’ve learned.

When I was training, I also had a routine. I’d go to school, come home, do my homework, go to the rink for practice and then go to bed. Repeat. Every day was usually the same for me, so I always had a set time when I would do my school work. In the long run, this helped me with my academics because I would never procrastinate. Skating has taught me how to be active in not only a physical sense, but also through work in school.

Now that I am older and I’ve had time to reflect back on all of those years of training, early morning sessions and sacrifices, I can confidently say that it taught me more than anyone could have. The skills I gained from my experience helped me to grow as a person, and I feel it was a vital part of my childhood.

Having a dad who not only was an athlete, but who also loves sports in general impacted the way I grew up, and I’m thankful for it. He pushed me and helped me tremendously with my figure skating because he not only supported me, but he was able to relate with what I was going through. He was my go-to and my support system when I needed it the most. And as I look back at it now, having a family history of sports made my experience with my sport that much better.

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