A Mothers Love For Athletes

Jonah Pataki - Mother's Day

Jonah Pataki with his grandmother, Pat Ennett (left), and mother, Mary Jo Pataki – Contributed Photo

When a young athlete scrapes their knee, needs a ride to the rink or field, or comes home in tears after a loss, often, it’s a mother who mends, cares for, and encourages.

Fortunately, once a year on Mother’s Day, an opportunity arises for sons and daughters to celebrate their earliest fan; mom.

“Basketball is definitely something my mom and I both love and have a passion for,” says Chatham basketball player, and Team Canada member Bridget Carleton. “It is a way we connect and I think it has a big part in why we are so close.”

“Having her as a coach is also really helpful at times,” said the grade 11 John McGregor student of her mother Carrie Carleton. “It’s awesome having someone to talk to in the house that loves the game as much as I do. She always helps me and pushes me to become the best player and person I can be.”

From funding their children, to providing positive encouragement, a mother plays an important role in the athletic development of a child.

“My mom has meant everything to me and my brothers as a supporter for our athletics,” says Jonah Pataki, an OUA All-Rookie Team member with the Queens University Gaels football team this season, regarding his mother Mary Jo Pataki.

Pataki also realizes the sacrifices his mother made to support him, and his brothers Brady and Ben in their athletic endeavors. Ben, started last season with the Chatham Maroons, before being named the Blenheim Blades’ Top Defenseman, while Brady, their younger brother, starred for the Chatham-Kent Cyclones Minor Midget AAA team and was a 4th round draft pick of the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves this year.

“She would always be there to cheer us on at multiple games, practices or camps, all with a proud smile on her face. But that is just the beginning, taking care of three athletic boys is no easy task, she also worked frequent extra hours to fund those many seasons of multiple sports, plus, you can imagine the food bill,” added Pataki.

Mother’s Day however, isn’t only a time for children, whether they are athletes or not, to thank their mothers, and reflect on the gifts they’ve been given. Mother’s Day is also a time for moms to be thankful for their children, and to look at how far those children have come, from being dependent, and innocent children, to fierce competitors, talented, and people to be admired themselves.

“I’m so proud of my boys,” says Mary Jo Pataki of Ben, Jonah, and Brady. “First of all their success, but more so how hard they work for their athletic goals. They’ve come so far from the little boys who ran, fought, climbed, skated, swam and tumbled constantly.”

“Coaching your children is very rewarding no matter what sport you coach, but when you share the same passion and love for a game as one of your children, it is definitely something special,” says Carrie Carleton of her time as Bridget’s basketball coach.

“With Bridget, I have never had to push her to work harder or spend extra time in the gym. She is incredibly driven and determined to be the best she can be.”

As they grow however, and leave the house, that bond changes, or rather develops.

“I can’t believe Bridget is heading into her senior year in high school. The time we spend together on the court will drastically change soon, and I will definitely miss it,” says Carrie Carleton, of Bridget, who committed last week to play NCAA Division I basketball in 2015 for the Big 12’s Iowa State Cyclones.

Even when the kids leave the nest however, mom is always there. Though distance may divide, a mothers’ love for athletes, for their children, is all the support they need.

“Leaving for University will definitely be a huge adjustment for me,” said Bridget Carleton, who was a highly sought after prospect by both NCAA and CIS teams. “My mom obviously will not be around all the time for me to talk to. But I know she will always want to know what’s going on and how I’m doing. Our relationship won’t change, but not having her around all the time will definitely be hard to get used to.”

That change, but continued support is something Jonah Pataki experienced this year as he moved to Kingston to play for Queens. Despite the distance, his mother was always with him to show support.

“Our relationship only changed with how often we see each other on a weekly, or monthly basis,” said Pataki of his mother Mary Jo. “Her support hasn’t changed, she did her best to get to most of my games, and if she couldn’t, I always felt the support.”

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