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Ester Marsh column: Athletes going to the Junior Olympics

With the 2016 Olympic Games right around the corner, I have so much respect for all the athletes who have trained for a spot on the Olympic team. And what a disappointment when you fall out the top placing, as we saw, sometimes by one thousandth of a second.

By the time you get to national level, everyone has the talent. At that point, it is a matter of how hard you train for your event and how much heart you have. Staying injury free and making sacrifices are key, and even then, luck and good fortune have to be on your side. It doesn’t come for free.

My brother, Gerold Hoeben, attended three Olympic games as a coach with the Dutch field hockey team. They travel all over the world with the team to play tournaments to get ready for the Olympics. In Greece, they got a silver medal and the women got gold; in China, the men finished fourth and the women won gold; and in London, they got silver and the women received the gold medal. It will be interesting to see what’s going to happen in Rio.

This year, my brother is not part of the Olympic Dutch field hockey team. It works out this way because he and his family, including my older sister and family and mom and dad are coming to visit me here. They will come and celebrate my big 5-0 birthday in just a couple of weeks!

Before that, we have the Junior Olympics in Houston, Texas, from July 30 through Aug. 6. Eighteen of our Hurley YMCA Warriors qualified to go but it’s such a financial obligation that at this time only seven Warriors will compete in Houston. They are: Emberleigh Pauley-Brown, 10 year-olds, 1500M; Leah Cressler, 14-year-olds, 800, 1,500, 3,000M; Tabitha Landy, 17-18 year-olds, 100M; Andrew Burgess (my son), 15-16 year-olds, 2,000 Steeple Chase; Eli Julian, 11-year-olds, 3,000M; John Sokolowski, 15-16 year-olds, 3,000M; Phillip Cressler, 12-year-olds, discus.

We are still taking donations until Wednesday if you would like to support these athletes to offset some of the cost. All our kids (and Warrior parents) work so hard and have put in so much time and so many sacrifices. Our goal for all our Hurley YMCA Warriors is that they will continue to love the sport even after high school. Appropriate progression of workouts, taking their age, fitness level and ability in consideration.

Kevin (Andrew’s stepfather and head coach for the Hurley YMCA Warriors) and I work hard to keep the balance between training, growing, health, school work and the love for the sport for all our Warriors. If you burn out your child before it really counts and it makes them hate the sport, what have you accomplished?

To all the coaches and parents behind these amazing athletes who will represent our country at the Rio Olympics, kudos to you! We will be heading to the Junior Olympics in Houston in a week, and it took sacrifices, hard work and dedication for our athletes to get there.

Go USA! Go Tavis Bailey, a former Kannapolis resident representing the USA in Rio in discus!

And, as always, HUP (Go) Holland!

Ester H Marsh Associate executive Director JF Hurley Family YMCA

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