The owner of the fine mustache below is Cal Naughton Jr.
Unlike his close friend, Ricky Bobby, Cal's "pre-tasche" years were fairly typical of a normal child growing up in Alabama. His father was chicken farmer, and his mother worked as a teacher at an elementary school on the other side of town.
Cal showed remarkable speed around the playground during lunchtime games of tag and stuck-in-the-mud, something his father attributed to Cal's chicken chasing when helping out on the farm. This speed later played a role in his success as captain and point guard of his elementary school's basketball team, and in his all-time record in stolen bases out on the diamond. Obviously, he was also a big hit at the local greased pig chasing events in town.
Fast yes, but Cal hadn't mastered "triple extension" quite yet
Along with being an all-rounder on the sports field, he had grown tall enough to drive his Dad's tractor on the farm. He could also operate the ATV that his father bought to patrol the next door neighbours goat farm when the coyotes were bothering the stock.
Once Cal entered middle school, he formed a great bond with Ricky Bobby who was a bit of a joker in the classroom, but was never anywhere to be found when it came to after school sports or weekend parties.
It turned out that Ricky was always busy with his driving schools and races. He was such a good friend that Cal started to get involved in go-kart himself. His parent's couldn't afford to send him off to all of the camps and races, but every Sunday afternoon he got 30 laps at Bumpy Joe's race track and a little help from the new coach Memphis Raines who had just moved into town. Cal loved it - but also enjoyed the other sports he played at school and with his friends.
Shortly after moving on to High School, Cal lost touch with his best friend. The big race team Dennit Racing had spotted Ricky's talent and picked him for their residential racing school out of state. Without his good friend at his side, he quit going to the track, quit shaving, and also got into hanging out with a bad crowd. Bad company brought trouble. Trouble that resulted in his new buddy Ted Terry stealing a car outside "the Mecca Cafe". Cal was the look out.
Unfortunately an off duty cop rolled out of the bar just as they were about to make their get away and raised the alarm. It turned out Ashley wasn't a good driver. He stalled the car three times on the way out of the parking lots so Cal took over.
Evading the cops for a whole 45 minutes was quite an achievement, and it was only when the car ran out of gas that he had to put his other kind of speed into action.
Cal figured his clothes were weighing him down
He got caught, and was sent to a juvenile detention center. He wasn't a bad kid though, something the center director realized and got him a job in the maintenance department upon release looking after the city trucks and cars.
Working, and studying for his GED didn't leave him with a ton of time to play all his sports so he decided to focus purely on driving. He used it as his "release". Driving for the fun of it and with no pressure, he continued to improve whilst all the other 18 year olds progress leveled off. After some more extra coaching from Memphis, he was entered into the Northern Alabama Swifty Stock Car League. Most of his competitors were either old guys on the way down, or guys like him on the way up.
Competition was fierce, but Cal did so well. He was stronger and had better endurance than the other drivers. The reactions and peripheral vision he developed from all his other sports helped on the tight race tracks, and he had none of the over use injuries that seemed to plague professional and amateur drivers alike. Cal had, after all, been driving right as much as left for most of his life. He also understood the mechanics of his car. He knew when he could push the car and when he couldn't thanks to his time fixing tractors, trucks, and cars.
After two years on the semi pro circuit, Cal got his big chance on the hit TV show "America's Next Nascar Driver with a Mustache from a State beginning with the letter A". His balanced driving, teamwork, and real world experience helped wow the judges and earned him a contract with the Electric Cowboy Race Team.
Cal experienced a long and enjoyable career. He even got to race (and beat) his old friend Ricky Bobby, who was unfortunately on the way down from the peak of his career at the age of 22.
Never the most talented, Cal Naughton Jr. overachieved and had longevity that is rare in Nascar, and his facial hair became a trademark of his unique balance of professionalism and fun loving!
MORAL OF THE STORY
Alright, so Part I and Part II are just stupid tales made up by me, but was an effort to get across a message to the parents and (in turn) the younger athletes out there. Pushing your kid into one sport too early won't guarantee success and happiness. In fact, it may well lead to problems down the road.
Specializing at 8 years old WILL make your kid better than other kids at 10 years old. They will also be better at 12, 14, and probably 16 years old. However, when push comes to shove when professional contracts, sponsorships, and (truly) important games are on the line, your kid will probably struggle mentally, physically, or socially (or maybe all of the above).
Young athletes need to develop a wide range of skills, physical abilities, and social tools. Later, at around 14 - 16 years old, specialization is necessary to apply all of these skills in a specific sporting context.
Please feel free to ask questions for more detail on this. I wanted to present this in a fun and unscientific manner so that it will stick with you. For further reading I recommend you check out the book by Drabik, and also look up the works/resources by Avery Faigenbaum and Kelvin Giles.