As the school year winds down and summer approaches, we’re sharing stories about how positive mentoring relationships support a healthy lifestyle through physical activity. We interviewed Shannon Boxx, former member of the US Women’s National Soccer Team, on how she has been inspired by her mentors to stay active throughout her life.
Q: Why do you think mentoring is important?
A: I think one of the things you notice is that mentoring helps a person’s chance to succeed. A mentor is a person who wants nothing in return except to see you succeed and thrive. Your mentor becomes so many things! Your mentor becomes your teacher, advisor, motivator, role model, and hopefully they become your friend as well. I know all my mentors are my friends for life!
Q: Tell us about a mentor in your life who inspired you to play your sport.
A: I had so many growing up! A lot of my mentors growing up were male figures. My biggest two mentors were when I was trying to make the National Team and they were big motivators. One of them was an athletic trainer who jumpstarted my fitness, and another was a physical therapist who helped me through so many injuries. They were supportive motivators who were focused on what I needed and were so willing to help me. To this day, my physical therapist is my mentor. He trained with me and we grew from that. He has just always been there for me. I would have never made the team without both of them.
Q: How do you like to get active?
A: Doing anything and everything outside and enjoying the sunshine. We made up games when I was a kid, my mom pushed me to go outside and encouraged me to play. It was all about playing games at the park outside my house and that always gave me this rush. Getting outside will give you more energy!
It’s important to realize that getting active provides an opportunity to be social. When you’re stuck inside you don’t get to be social, going out to play is so much fun because have so many opportunities to meet people. I am always much happier when the sun is shining; being outside is when I am happiest. For my kids I try to make it fun! It’s all about letting them get wet and muddy, and reminding them you can take a shower later.
Q: How did your mentor encourage you to get active?
A: My very first mentor worked at the park across the street and he encouraged me to join the other kids and go play a new game. My other mentors were always pushing me to get fitter and be healthy. They taught me the right way to deal with my changing health and listen to my body. They taught me how to take care of myself so I can stay active longer.
Q: Why do you think it is important for youth to understand physical health and getting active?
A: When you understand a routine of exercise and healthy eating, you understand how to balance health highs and lows. Like when you have a bad day and you can’t get out, it’s important to realize that you can make it up another day and not feel bad about missing a day of activity. Having balance in your life and physical activity means understanding your body’s needs.