They’re so grown up now. Both of them have girlfriends, one is in college and the other finishing high school. I can’t help but feel a little protective, and honestly, a bit sad they don’t need me as much anymore.
I never expected such strong bonds to form. When I joined the junior rifle team, I was the only girl and everyone was pretty quiet. While the coaches were incredibly welcoming, most of the kids came, shot the course of fire, and left. Whether it was my outgoing personality or the combination of people, as more kids joined my team, the dynamic changed. It became more like a family reunion than a once-a-week activity and I somehow became the leader among the youth. Four of us became inseparable, and two of those four I practically adopted as the brothers I didn’t have. What I never expected was the text.
Sunday, May 12, 2019, 11:04 am.
“Happy Mother’s Day team mom!!!!!!” read the text from George, one of my “brothers.”
Seven minutes later, 11:11 am, from Alex, “Also, happy Mother’s Day! Because you’re the team mom.” This text was followed by a laughing emoji.
I quote these texts exactly because I saved them, they meant so much to me. That also really confirmed for me that I had inadvertently taken on a role I didn’t know existed, that of Team Mom.
You’ve heard of the Den Mother and the Soccer Mom, but the Shooting Team Mom is something entirely different. Yes, the idea is the same. Someone who is incredibly supportive and takes care of everyone else, but there is something different about the role. Shooting teams are typically comprised of both guys and girls, and it isn’t typically a school-sanctioned sport. There is an incredible amount of logistics involved in making sure that kids from across a state have everything they need, are where they need to be on time, and with all of the correct paperwork.
Everyone has a different style. At 22, I am much different than most other team moms because I was first Ohio’s team mom while an Ohio junior. I packed extra Zyrtec and tissues in my range bag and memorized firing points and relay schedules. George told me I made the transition from friend/teammate/sister to Team Mom when I made Liam, my best friend and one of the juniors on the team, a sandwich. (He didn’t pack a lunch, what was I supposed to do?)
There isn’t always just one. In the high-power world, powerhouse team California Grizzlies brings along several Team Moms, whom they give homage to on their website.
Connie Taylor is the original Grizzly Team Mom, having assisted with the program for 25 years. “We see that everything and everyone is taken care of so they can better focus on shooting to the best of their abilities,” Connie says. Like Connie, Wanda Greenwood and Lynn Bahten continue to support the team long after their kids aged out. While there are even more Grizzly Team Moms, the point remains that they support the kids and what they are doing because they see the positive impact the shooting sports have on building character. Taking time to do laundry, cook, make schedules and take photographs at the National Matches takes these items off the kids’ and coaches’ lists.
Sue Voros, Team Mom of the New Jersey Garden State Gunners, explains that it is not a one-person job. “We have lots of team moms and dads who help out. I have just been here the longest. I help with filling out paperwork, coordinating things like rides to matches, housing and food when the team travels to Camp Perry, equipment transport, pit pulling for the team when needed, fundraising, recruiting.” She also enjoys taking photographs and video as it gives her something to do during the matches.
Regardless, it is appreciated. During her time as a junior on the Garden State Gunners team, Jessica Peoples recognized just how much work everyone, especially Sue, contributed. “A team mom (such as our own Mrs. Susan Voros) is someone who is dedicated to being a resource to every junior on the team,” she says. “At Camp Perry, Sue would check in on every shooter, every day, no matter what range they were on. She often trudged around a cart with snacks, water and other range supplies. At home range matches, Sue would assume similar responsibilities, including making sure new shooters knew how to register, pull pits, score, and had all the range supplies they needed. I remember she notoriously always carried a huge range bag that had no less than two big bags of ECIs, eye protection, and earplugs.”
Though most of my experience has been in high power, there would not be junior shooting sports without supportive parents in all disciplines. Shotgun competitor Amy Cawley notes that even though her mom does not shoot shotgun, “She has fully embraced the sport.” Amy reports that her mom, Kim Cawley, supports everyone on her team. “If she had her way, she would be out on the line with us ringing her cowbell after every shot…Her favorite thing to say is ‘THAT’S MY KID!’,” which she even has on a personalized shirt.
This is nowhere close to an inclusive list of the many people who support juniors in the shooting sports, across all disciplines. I am incredibly grateful to all of my coaches, to everyone who has supported me and my efforts with the juniors, and for the opportunity I have in Ohio to support “my kids.” Everyone has a different experience and most of the time, it seems that the Team Mom is not also a competitor. (This is not always the case.) I am very fortunate to be able to be a friend, coach, and “Mom” to several kids in Ohio and will forever treasure the bonds forged on the range.