Olympic parents

June 10, 2008

There is a magic moment in every Olympic event where a runner breaks the tape, swims to the wall, or rows to the finish line.

It’s pure energy to see the athlete’s face.

It’s pure wonderment to watch their parents.

Our Friday Olympic Zone story will profile Modesto rower Erin Cafaro.

Olympic rowing hopeful Erin Cafaro

 At 25, she’s on the verge of being named to the Olympic Rowing team.  Her parents are on the verge of losing their minds waiting for the big news to find out if they too are Beijing bound.

I love Olympic parents.  They can out Costas Bob Costas when it comes to random Olympic facts.  Got questions?  Get parents.

Erin Cafaro’s mom, Vian Cafaro, could earn a gold medal in supporting your kid.  She was kind enough to answer some extra questions for Deirdre’s Diary.

1.  Most of us think our kids are the greatest.  You’ve got proof that yours actually is…what’s that like?

The thing about Erin that has always amazed us is her perseverence.  Also, whenever she sets her mind on a goal, just get out of her way!  I can think of two examples. 

A.  She potty trained herself in one day when she was 21 months old.  She simply said, “No more diapers, and that was it.  Erin Cafaro, age 2

B.  Erin and her brother JD used to do a sports conditioning program with Coach Mike Gline at Central Catholic High School.  At the end of the session, Coach Gline would take anyone on in a game of horse.  Everyone knew Coach Gline needed to win before everyone could go home.  Erin would never allow that.  She wanted to win.  Some nights the kids would stay for hours while this contest of wills went on and on between them.

2.  The rowers tell me there is a great parent circuit that follows them around the world.  Where has rowing taken your family?

I have to say this travel deal has been a huge bonus for all of us.  Erin’s first international race was in 2005 in the under 23 World Championships in Amsterdam.  We all went.  John, JD (Erin’s brother) and me.  We had a blast and even had a day to do the tourist thing with Erin.The Cafaro family

Last year, in 2007, the Rowing World Championships were held in Munich, at the old Olympic course.  The parents formed a nightly tour of the Munich beer gardens.  Let’s just say, we nightly closed the places down.  This is a long answer, but I really should say, “parent a rower, see the world!”

3.  Would you ever have guessed you’d be an Olympic hopeful’s parent?

Until it actually happens, we can’t believe it.  There are going to be only 550 rowing athletes chosen to represent their countries in the 2008 Beijing Olympics total.  To have our daughter amongst this very elite group, representing the United States, would be the honor of a lifetime.

4.  Have you ever been tempted to get in a boat and try it out?

No way.  I don’t do boats very well.  I get sea sick!  Ask anyone.  We do have a ergometer, an indoor rowing machine.   I do get on that.  It is a terrific workout, and it makes you respect what Erin does every day even more.

5.  What advice have you given Erin about expectations and goals as she prepares to hear whether she is Beijing bound?

No advice.  Erin is very much an adult at 25 and her own woman.  We talk and email as a family daily.  So, we do share her quest in that respect.  However, Erin is also very humble.  And, I know she would never project herself into being selected for a seat in a boat representing the United States until the actual naming of the team.

Regardless, she has already made the decision to pursue another Olympic cycle, culminating in London 2012.

6.  Who do you think gets more stressed…the athletes or their parents?

Definitely the athletes.  They are like race horses with blinders on.

Their entire world, their focus has been representing the US at the 2008 Olympics.  I think the parent’s role in this is to support your child in whatever way you can, financially, emotionally, and to stay out of the way so that they can achieve their goals.


One Response to “Olympic parents”

  1. What a priviledge to watch an outstanding athelete with the tenacity, grit and patience to pursue the goal of representing the United States on the Olympic Team. I know the Cafaro family; the values with which they raised Erin and her brother JD. is the foundation that enabled Erin to dedicate herself to her goal of being an Olympic Team member. This is truly a family effort. The abundance of love and support this family shares is worth its weight in gold. I wish her all the best.
    Leonore Becker

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