UnitedHealthcare Health insurance that includes all Western PA hospitals
Tuesday December 1 2015
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Keep On Smiling

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It was her smile that got me. That beautiful, joy-filled smile flashed by Gabby Douglas, as she completed her gold-medal clinching performance with her floor routine. She was having fun. Period. The true symbol of what sports are all about.

When the cameras cut away to Gabby's family in the stands, I joined many parents around the country that shed a tear. We were happy, not only for this talented young dynamo and her proud family, but happy that we have the same opportunity to share similar moments of athletic competition with our children and grandchildren.

As Gabby twisted through the air, I recalled my own experience of watching my daughter extend her hands, vaulting through the air for the first time in gymnastics' competition, frightened and proud at the same time. My little girl, performing skills—in mid-air, no less—that I could never imagine. Gaining confidence about her abilities, challenging herself to push her body to its maximum genetic potential, and having a blast doing it.

Although she's no longer competing, her gymnastics experiences were important ones in her development as a young girl. Learning athletic skills, trusting her coaches, being a good teammate, and learning about winning and losing are all life skills that she was exposed to through athletic competition.

Sometimes in pressure-packed moments, the difference between winning and losing came down to whether or not she would stick her landing on the final routine of the day. And as her parents, we got to see her in action – ready for consoling hugs or congratulatory high-fives, whatever the situation called for.

Those embraces continue today with the twists and turns life throws at us all. But what we experienced, as parents and children, can be a great foundation for life's experiences. Seeing Gabby's smiles and her mother's tears is a reminder for us all who are involved in our children's sports... just being there means the most.

The gold-hearted moments of watching our kids play sports – for the fun of it.

Neil Walker’s contract expires after the 2016 season. The Pirates second baseman is due for a big raise in arbitration this offseason, likely to $10 million.
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