Being My Biggest Fan is a Dangerous Job

When gymnastics is involved, cheering on your child can be risky business. But my mother was always there.

My mother has always been my biggest fan. One Saturday eight years ago, her dedication almost earned her a concussion.

Just the other day, a friend mentioned to me in passing that his daughter had a robotics competition last Saturday, which meant he sat on bleachers for five hours to watch her compete for five minutes.

I was that daughter once. I was seventeen and in yet another gymnastics competition.

My mother dedicated countless Saturdays to my meets. She would sit on the bleachers for five hours (sometimes after driving for hours just to get me there) only to watch me, breath held every time I went upside down, compete for a grand total of five minutes. She never missed a meet.

This particular day, that January of my senior year, we had driven several hours to get to Tennessee. We arrived at the auditorium, I changed into my warm-ups, and Mom waved me off to do my thing. She settled in at the top of the bleachers, so high up, that the bleachers had ended and become rows of chairs. She pulled out her knitting and a book. She held her breath while I flipped, clenched her fists and her teeth whenever I fell, and breathed only once I was done.

So it should have made me suspicious when at the end of the meet, I couldn’t see her because my coaches were blocking my view of that particular corner of the bleachers.

Someone, in an innocent attempt to move his chair down a row, had conked my mother in the back of the head with his chair leg. She became dizzy and faint. The paramedics, on hand just in case us gymnasts needed them, came to her aid. My coaches blocked my view so I couldn’t witness the mayhem.

During that conversation the other day about that robotics competition, it struck me for the first time just how much my mother gave up to make me happy. Countless Saturday mornings where she could have slept in but instead chose to wake up at 5AM with me so we could be on time to my competition. Countless Saturday evenings when she could have been going on dates with my dad or out with friends. She instead took me out to dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s after nearly every away meet.

She also drove me to and from practice five days a week. She made friends with other team moms and drove their kids to and from practice, too. She helped me keep my warm-ups clean, pack my practice and competition bags, and blew a hole in the ozone layer with all the hairspray we went through to make sure my unruly curly hair didn’t come out of the military style bun she spent hours constructing. She was (and still is) always available when I needed her, always willing to listen, always there.

We went out to Ruby Tuesday’s that day she almost got a concussion from watching me compete. It’s been eight years since that January. Almost eight years now since I competed my final routine, eight years since Mom drove me up and down the east coast to competitions.

Mom’s love has taught me a lot about the love of a good parent, about the love of God for His children. He is always available when I need Him, always willing to listen, always there. I’ll never be able to thank her enough for teaching me all about Him and showing me who He is through her love for me. For her dedication to my dreams during those gymnastics years. For the sleepless nights when I was an infant and she had no idea I’d grow up to want to hurl myself against gravity. For the look on her face when I walked down the aisle a few summers ago on Daddy’s arm, in the white dress she helped me choose.

I hope someday to love my own children so well—with the same help she had, from our Heavenly Father. Today, amid this fast-paced life, I hope you’re encouraged to make a phone call to whoever fulfilled that role in your life—whether your mother, another family member, or a beloved mentor figure—and thank him or her for being your biggest fan. It is, after all, often a dangerous job.


By Rachelle Cobb