Student-athletes follow in parents’ footsteps

It goes without saying that parents have an important role in the sporting development of their child. Parents support their children in many ways, but there are two specific types of support that stand out. The first is the parent who walks up and down the sideline, yelling out criticisms at their child, their teammates, and most importantly, the ref. The second parent is the one who shows up to every competition, rain or shine, to support their child and their teammates. This brings up the question of if parents truly have an influence on their children’s athletic experiences. For seniors Senai Assefa and Erin Magnuson, both say their parents have helped them succeed in their athletics.

I started playing because, obviously, my dad played, and he wanted us to give it a try”

— Erin Magnuson

Both Magnuson and Assefa’s fathers started playing their respective sports from a young age. Mr. Assefa began playing soccer as a kid in Ethiopia, and Mr. Magnuson played hockey for SPA. For both, their sports were popular in their neighborhoods and hometowns, which helped them develop their skills.
Mr. Assefa played into high school, which gave him the opportunity to pursue the sport at a higher level. “The University of Washington offered my dad a soccer scholarship, which was pretty cool, because it meant that he was getting noticed by people who play soccer for a living,” Senai Assefa said. The opportunity was exciting for him, Assefa recalls. After two years on the team, Mr. Assefa stopped playing so he could spend more time on his academics; “Once he realized that he wanted to go to med school, he stopped playing, but his passion for soccer still remained,” Assefa said. His father has been playing soccer for as long as he can remember, as it was the first sport his father introduced to him. “Because there aren’t really seasons in St. Thomas, you could play soccer year round, which was pretty cool,” Assefa said. As Assefa grew older, his father taught him skills like ball control, passing, and other techniques that helped him become a better player.

Mr. Magnuson started playing hockey at a very young age, as most hockey players do. He grew up on White Bear Lake, playing with friends and family members. As he got older, he played on age-group teams before joining SPA’s hockey program, and a club team at Bates College. “Especially in Minnesota, hockey is a part of the culture, which helped my dad fall in love with the sport,” said Magnuson. Similar to Senai, Erin has been playing hockey for as long as she can remember; “I started playing because, obviously, my dad played, and he wanted us to give it a try,” Magnuson said. Erin started by playing on boys recreational teams when she was in elementary school, then switched over to organized hockey in middle school. “When I was first starting out, my dad was coaching United, which was pretty cool to me. It made me want to play for SPA when I was older,” Magnuson said.

Erin and Senai are prime examples of students who play the same sports as their parents did, because of the influence their parents had on them.