The lessons learned from sports + Heather Gudenkauf’s “Missing Pieces”

My older daughter has never been the most coordinated of children. In fact, when she was in first grade I got a note home from her gym teacher asking us to play catch with her more often because she had very little hand/eye coordination! At that time, this child had played soccer and t-ball, and had played countless backyard games with us and other children. She just had no ball skillz, as the kids say.

That summer I put her on our local summer swim team. It was slightly painful (as a former swimmer myself, I tried not to get too into it at that point, afraid I would cloud her experience), but she kept going. She did it again the next summer, and that winter. And the next summer, and on and on.

She’s now nearly 13, and she keeps going because she loves it. When she was younger, I would sit down with her in the fall and ask her if she still wanted to swim, because swimming was (and is) a huge time commitment. Every year she said yes.

During the early years she also played soccer, at least until she was old enough (in third grade) to play lacrosse. Once she picked up that stick she forgot all about soccer (which wasn’t that hard for her; she never really loved it). She still plays lacrosse (although it has taken a backseat to swimming. Again, all her choice).

I do not want my child to be a one sport athlete. But, in this day and age, that’s hard. We had to sit her down a year ago and talk to her about her two sports, and we basically told her she had put them in order. Partly because of time in the day, partly because we want her to do everything ELSE she wants to do (she is in her school’s honor choir, she does a service club at school, and she is currently on the school’s Power of the Pen team), partly because of funds.

She chose swimming as her first priority, lacrosse second. Swimming is my thing. My husband coaches lacrosse (which he has been doing for three months without her), so that’s his thing. But I love watching her play lacrosse, too; and he loves watching her swim. So, whichever way it went would have been fine with us. But, because she chose swimming, she dedicates a large chunk of her free time to that.

Note, in the middle here: if her school work starts to fall, she will lose her extracurriculars. Luckily, as of now (in 7th grade), she is a good student, usually all As and Bs (it’s always math).

I watched my girl flourish as a swimmer. She gets a little better every year. Of course her times drop, but her place in the ‘pack’ of swimmers gets better every year. Her times place her higher. And she knows it.

She works really hard at practice. Sometimes she gotten frustrated at the lazy practicers, the kids who don’t work as hard as she does but still have fast meets. That part has leveled off as well. She wasn’t one of those kids who got in the pool and were instantly fast. She’s had to work hard to get to where she is.

I like her choices of sports as well. An individual sport: where he success or failure rests pretty much on her own shoulders. A team sport: where she must find her place in the group and work with her team to be successful, taking the wins and losses together as a team.

Through swimming and lacrosse, I cannot list all the things my daughter has learned. But here are few:

  • Set your goals and then work to reach them. Celebrate when you get there, and then start it over again
  • Hard work pays off
  • You get out what you put in
  • Sometimes you can do it on your own, sometimes you need a team
  • Competition is great, but friendship is better. Leave the race in the pool, the game on the field
  • Sometimes you win, and you need to thank your competitors. Sometimes you lose, and you need to congratulate the winners (this goes for swimming and lacrosse, and anything else in which she competes)
  • What you put into your body counts
  • Your body and your mind work better when you regularly exercise (something of which I need to remind myself)
  • The more you do, the more you get done, as long as you manage your time
  • School is the base in this house of cards. If that starts to fail, the whole thing comes down


That’s just a few of the MANY things that my daughter gets from being an athlete, the lessons that I hope she takes with her in everything she does, now and forever. I’m proud of the person she’s becoming, and sports has helped her become who she is now and who she eventually will be.

Okay, onto Heather Gudenkauf’s Missing Pieces.

A mystery full of twists and turns, it will leave you guessing until the very end!

The Premise

Jack and Sarah Quinlan have a wonderful life, living in idyllic Larkspur, Montana. Their twin daughters are off in college, and they are beginning to enjoy their empty nest.

And then Jack gets a call. His Aunt Julia, the woman who raised him after his parents died, has fallen down the stairs and may not survive. Jack decides to make the trip back to Penney Gate, Iowa, to the town he left behind after high school.

Once there, Sarah starts to learn that Jack didn’t tell her everything about his past. His mother and father didn’t die together in a car accident as he had always told her. Rather, she was murdered, and his father disappeared immediately after. He didn’t tell her about his high school girl friend, Celia; the woman now married to his cousin. He didn’t tell you that he was a suspect in his mother’s murder, or that he was a troubled boy, or that his sister was still troubled.

After Julia dies, the family learns that she was murdered. Sifting through new and old information, Sarah begins to learn more about Jack and his family. And she might just be uncovering the truth to both murders, if she’s not careful.

My Thoughts

 Missing Pieces is a mystery/thriller done right. I was not sure who the killer was until the end (although that person was on my list).

As engrossed as I was, though, the characters were a little too one dimensional, leaving questions in my mind. Why is Sarah so intent on doing this all herself? Why does she trust a pretty much random stranger but not the sheriff or another deputy? Although her husband hid the truth from her, why would she immediately almost throw away 20 years of trust?

Although, or maybe because, I had these questions, Missing Pieces still held together. The thrills still thrilled, the mystery was still very mysterious. I enjoyed this book: it took me on an enjoyable adventure.

I give it 4 stars.


One thought on “The lessons learned from sports + Heather Gudenkauf’s “Missing Pieces”

  1. Wow! Your daughter seems to be a very busy young woman. It is good that she is occupied herself with all of these benificial activities that will enhanced her skills in the future. 😊


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