“We did it!” Those were my son’s words when he made the decision back in November to commit to Santa Clara University.

“We did it!” Those were my son’s words when he got the official letter of acceptance last month from Santa Clara University.

“We did it!” Those were my son’s words after the Signing Day ceremony at his high school last night.

Those words were said directly to me. They were my son’s way of acknowledging that this achievement belongs not only to him but also to my husband and me, that this achievement is one to be celebrated by the three of us together, that it took all of us committing to his DI college tennis goal in order for us to be participating in Signing Day.

And it goes even beyond my son, my husband, and me. If you’ll notice in the photo above, standing behind the three of us are my son’s grandfather (my dad who played on Tulane’s NCAA Championship Team in 1959), his personal coach Stephen Diaz, and his high school coach John Evans. Those three men have also played a big role in my son’s journey, and my son wanted each of them at the table when he signed his commitment letter.

I knew this was a big day. I knew my son was excited to be recognized in front of his fellow student-athletes, only 25 of whom (out of a senior class of 603 students) would be playing a collegiate sport. What I didn’t know is how emotional I would be.

Hearing my son’s name called by the athletic director, hearing his high school tennis coach talk about his leadership skills and the important role he plays on the team, then hearing my son publicly recognize the important people in his tennis development made me choke up. It is a good thing the moms aren’t asked to speak! I was beaming! The pride and sense of accomplishment I was feeling took me by surprise.

My three children have each done some pretty amazing things in their young lives, and I have felt that maternal pride every time. I was always the one with tears in her eyes during the chorus performance, soccer game, dance recital, college play, bar and bat mitzvah, equestrian show – you name it, and I was sitting there with a sense of awe at what my child was able to do.

There was something different this time, though. Maybe it’s the length of the journey, the ups and downs that my son has experienced over the past 10 years, that set this night apart . . . I don’t know how to explain it, but it just felt different.

I’m not sure if my husband felt it too. I suspect not. That’s not his MO. He’s much more pragmatic in his approach to these types of things. I’m the emotional one. I’m the one who typically reacts in a Big Way, whether positive or negative. He is the calm one, the one who focuses on the facts, the attorney. Thank goodness. Our children need him to provide a sense of balance against my Big Emotions.

But back to last night . . .

We went out to dinner after the ceremony. My parents came in town just for this night and joined us. I felt compelled to let our waiter know that we were celebrating a Big Accomplishment, that my son had just signed to play college tennis – don’t ask me why I did that. It’s just another thing I’m sharing with you so you understand when I say this night felt different. But the waiter seemed to get it. When he brought our dessert at the end of the meal, he had the kitchen write “Congratulations” on my son’s plate. He also had them write it on my plate then said the parents deserved to be congratulated, too. Smart waiter! I wonder if he played a collegiate sport and understands what this journey entails and the important role his parents played? I should’ve asked him.

I still haven’t seen all the photos from last night’s ceremony. I haven’t seen the article in our local newspaper. But I have seen the “likes” and Comments on my son’s Instagram post and my various social media posts. There are a lot of people who get it, who understand why this is such a Big Deal. Those of you who have been through it definitely understand. Those of you who have Signing Day in your future, you’ll see. I promise, if you want to share it with me, I’ll get it and will be celebrating right along with you!

As I wrote to one Fellow Tennis Parent earlier today, “You will find lots of small victories along the way during this junior tennis journey. Be sure to celebrate them! They will add up and, looking back in a few years, you will realize how special this time truly is.”

It is. Truly special. We are all extremely fortunate to experience this journey with our children.

It’s Signing Week

This is the week when high school tennis players (and all high school athletes for that matter) can first sign on the proverbial dotted line to commit to playing their sport at the collegiate level.  There are press conferences, lots of picture-taking, and lots of hype surrounding the top players – TennisRecruiting devotes a ton of bandwidth to Signing Week and where the Blue Chips and 5-Stars are headed next Fall.  It’s a pretty big deal!

We are still two years away from Signing Week in our house, thank goodness.  And, I know to my son that seems like an eternity.  But for me, I’m realizing that it’s right around the corner.  Two years can pass in the blink of an eye.

I’m trying to urge him – nudge him gently – to start taking bolder steps in his college recruiting journey.  I forward him the articles on TennisRecruiting that address the essential parts of the process.  I casually mention tips I’ve heard from coaches and consultants that might help him.  I post videos on his Facebook wall showing college teams in action in hopes of inspiring him to take action.

Ultimately, I have to let him drive the bus.  This has to be his thing.  I can’t do it for him, as much as I might want to.  It’s tough for me to sit back and twiddle my thumbs – that’s not really my personality at all – while I wait for him to act, but I’m going to do it.  I’m going to let this come from him because it has to come from him.  I will guide.  I will support.  But I will not do.

And, in two years, when Signing Week has a direct impact on my family, I am confident that I will have some good news to report.  My son has worked hard.  He will continue to work hard.  He will do what he needs to do to reach his goal of playing college tennis.  Because that’s how we’ve raised him.  And that’s the expectation he has of himself.  And he wants to sign on that dotted line.