In the fall of 2022, 11-year-old Tya Zebrowski became vice-champion of France in senior surfing, a few months after taking fourth place in the Junior World Championships, an event normally reserved for surfers aged 16 to 18. years.
A feat that amazed even his parents, Gary Zebrowski and Caroline Beliard, both former snowboarding champions. He even took sixth place in the Olympic half pipe event at the Turin Winter Olympics in 2006. An advantage? "We grope, like everyone else," says the ex-rider, now a yoga teacher. “But we always tried not to project anything. We know too well that making a career is a difficult thing, that this sport is one of the toughest in the world, that you can be ready physically and mentally but the wave never comes, or an injury can occur and stop everything... We're just trying to give her a taste for joyful effort and the tools to go her own way, be confident in her choices, and be happy. »
At the beginning of May, the young surfer took part in the first of the three stages of the European Junior Tour, with the hope of winning the continental title to then participate in the World Championship. "Competition, yes, but not too much," says his mother who, with her husband, coach, oversees the organization of Tya's schedule and provides logistical support. Only the time-consuming management of partnerships and communication has been delegated. "You have to know how to trust and recreate a family around her, made up of caring people who will accompany her as a person first and foremost. »
Nearly 800 kilometers from the Atlantic beaches, at the foot of the Alps, Émilie Delzoppo agrees and also insists on the trust she places in the coach of her daughter Zoé. "I'm not in a position to judge technically," explains this dentist, whose youngest, 17, a member of Team Mammut, was crowned world champion in freeride skiing at the end of January in Austria. The practice is not without risk. That's why the mom says she "could drive ten hours to get her to a competition site but never watch her go down!" When there are no drones, I rely on the other parents present to film it.
The rise to power of Zoé Delzoppo, who only trains two days a week from the opening to the closing of the La Clusaz resort, impresses and Émilie must take care that so much success does not intoxicate her, throwing her a good-natured: "Cocotte, we're chickening out. Next winter, the young skier could make her debut at the Freeride World Qualifier, a competition for adults and a gateway to the mythical Freeride World Tour. "Let her have fun while it lasts," her mother replies to the eternal question: "And the studies? And to confide that she recently changed her mind on the subject. "I know she'll be back on her feet whether or not she does medicine like she envisioned a few months ago." She has her head on her shoulders and is persistent. »
Parents of young athletes, a complex mission, made up of doubts and constant questioning, in which listening, communication and management of one's own emotions must take precedence. No miracle recipe but behaviors "rather perceived as harmful" (such as criticism of the coach's instructions or comments focused on the result) to be avoided, underlines Noémie Lienhart, teacher-researcher at the UFR Staps de Nantes and co-author of the Parents' Guide: supporting your child in his dual school and sports project.