These grandparents are leading the cheers

Posted 9/14/23

Simply stated, the experience of youth sports owes much to the older generation. 

Three local families shared some thoughts about the importance of athletics to their grandchildren and the unique joys of sharing in that experience. 

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These grandparents are leading the cheers


The beginning of another year of scholastic sports means a lot of bleacher time for friends and families, especially families. Anyone doing a little people-watching in the stands will note a significant number of grandparents rallying to support their prodigy.

Simply stated, the experience of youth sports owes much to the older generation. 

Three local families shared some thoughts about the importance of athletics to their grandchildren and the unique joys of sharing in that experience. 

Possibly the most telling comment about supporting grandkids came from grandpa Donald Easthouse, “The more interest we show in their activities, the more interest they have in them.”

His observation crystallized the impact that so many grandparents have on their grandkids. 

For Donald and Patty Easthouse, that interest is demonstrated each Wednesday as they rally to East Texas Twisters to watch their 3-year-old granddaughter, Leighton. Not only does young Leighton know exactly when her gymnastic day rolls around each week, but she would be quick to note if grandma and grandpa were not there. 

To Leighton, it wouldn’t be “tumbween” without them.

Patty’s list of positive influences from athletics, and other group activities, for Leighton and her other grandchildren came tumbling out: teamwork, sportsmanship, following direction, defining purpose and self-awareness – just for starters. 

And, as Donald aptly added, “We just can’t see enough of them.”

For the Easthouses that includes Leighton and her tumbwee as well as Lindale freshman band member Lilah and all future endeavors of young Madden, now 4-years of age. Patty and Donald relocated to East Texas in 2005 from Alamogordo, N.M., where Donald completed a long career with the U.S. Air Force. 

Fixtures in the Alba-Golden and Mineola communities for nearly 20 years, Patty explained that she endeavors to replicate the amazing support she had received from her family in her youth. With years of honorable service in the Air Force, Donald can appreciate the value of the lessons learned in training. 

Patty leaned forward at her desk at My Credit Union and summarized, “Leighton’s gymnastics are more than just all that, they are really family-bonding sessions for us all.”   

For grandparents Greg and Becky Moore, that support is unique in that, while they are now frequent visitors to the gym, they had until recently followed their grandchildren from afar. The Moores are Alaskans.

The subject of their support has been their grandchildren Lincoln, Regan, Jonah, Mylee and Macy Fischer – children of their eldest daughter Michelle and husband Chris Fischer.

With two of their three children having settled in East Texas, the Moores made the decision, two years ago, to join the family in Mineola.

With seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren in the area, even the natural beauty of Alaska could not hold them.

Still it was not an easy move to make. The Moores grew up in the ‘last frontier.’ Both of their families had moved to Alaska as their fathers took jobs rebuilding the state after the devastating 1964 earthquake.

They are very thankful of having lived in Alaska, and especially of being able to raise their children there. They lived on the Kenai Peninsula and had the deep blue waters of the North Pacific in view and snow-capped mountains in the background.

But actively following their grandchildren’s’ sporting accomplishments from afar took some patience and perseverance.

“We followed all of their teams through the Monitor,” Becky explained, “but it took three weeks for us to receive it.” Nevertheless, photos and articles were clipped and placed on a big board.

More recently, the two were able to stream some games. Greg specifically recalled some Yellowjacket and Lady Jacket playoffs.

“There was always a pre-game and a post-game phone call,” Becky noted, “and prayer.” The messaging from the grandparents was remarkably consistent – keep the proper attitude, compete and be thankful. 

“You may have lost the game,” Becky stated, “but with attitude and prayer, you really won.”

The Moores now have bleacher seats from which to watch Macy (class of 2024) and the Lady Jackets. 

Greg commented that scholastic sports teaches discipline and enriches the sense of team in young people.

Becky added, “It builds leadership and introduces a lot of skills to the kids. It provides a healthy perspective for them.”

Of course, distance is no measure of the love and support rendered to grandchildren – especially those donning a uniform for the first time. 

The number one fan of Lilah Sims – 8-year old daughter of Jessica and Christian Sims of Mineola – is her grandmother, Michelle Davidson.

The effect of asking Michelle about her first grandchild caused an immediate visual reaction. Sitting in the shade of the Civic Center pavilion and upon being asked, “Can you comment on the special relationship you share with Lilah?” Michelle’s face literally enlightened. For a moment, her face shone. 

Michelle explained, “We do share a special relationship. In addition to usual daily contact, the standard weekly routine includes a night-over with grandma –  often a movie night (“Miracle Season” being a top recommendation) with a variety of snacks.”

With Lilah’s initial forays into athletics – gymnastics and softball – the bond between the two has deepened. Grandma knows a thing or two about athletics.

A 1977 graduate of Mineola High School, Michelle was voted ‘most athletic’ in her junior and senior years. A natural sprinter, she ran the 100-yard and 220-yard dashes, the 440 relay and competed in the triple-jump.

Her junior research paper, ‘Women in Sports’ received an A.

After track and volleyball at Mineola High, Michelle played Ladies League softball in Mineola and church league in Mt. Pleasant. Michelle’s grandmother, Lucille Ingram, was a bit of a trailblazer for women in sports. She played softball in the Fort Worth area in the 1930s.  

Michelle’s enthusiasm for sports bubbles out of her.

 “It is the inspiration resulting from competition which I love,” she said.

While she freely admits that she is tremendously proud of Lilah following a bit in her footsteps, she commented that learning the mechanics of sports, instilling a sense of confidence and improving self-worth are three excellent reasons to play.   

With Lilah now fully engaged in softball (fall league), the two find time at least once a week to throw the ball around the backyard.

There-in perhaps is the secret to the grandparent role – making the time.