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Proud dad of 2 Olympians reveals his best advice for other sports parents

Sheldon Peterson has been supporting his curler daughters since they were 8 and 10.
/ Source: TODAY

Sheldon Peterson has not one, but two daughters competing in the the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

The secret behind all that success? Good genes, he jokes.

Peterson is the dad of Tabitha and Tara Peterson, both curlers for Team USA. The sisters, ages 32 and 30 respectively, are the latest in a line of family athletes that include their grandfather, who was a competitive curler in Canada, and Sheldon Peterson himself, who was a collegiate diver at the University of Minnesota. 

Peterson said he loves getting to watch both his daughters on the ice, something he has been doing since they were just 10 and 8 years old. When he first took them to their local curling club in St. Paul, Minnesota, he said competition wasn’t necessarily the first thing on their minds.

"They’d curl for half an hour, I think, and then they’d have a break for 20 minutes, go up and have snacks and go back on the ice — so that was the highlight of the day initially," Peterson told TODAY’s Craig Melvin during a segment of "Dads Got This!"

Now, as the women head to Beijing with their four-member team, their father is sharing his tips for dads of up-and-coming athletes.

"Stay out of their business," Peterson said. "You know, they have coaches. Parents are just a support system for whatever activity they’re doing, but certainly we can’t tell them how to do it."

While the sibling duo might not have taken after their dad in his collegiate diving experience, they followed his footsteps in other areas. Peterson is a retired dentist, and the rest of his kids work in health care as well. Tabitha is a pharmacist, Tara is a dentist and their brother Trent is a nurse. 

Watching his daughters compete often involves a lot of nervous pacing, Peterson confessed.

"I can’t sit — I have to walk back and forth, up and down the ice," he told Melvin.

The sisters, who affectionately call their dad "Pips" or, to Peterson's dismay, "Poops," say family is an important part of the sport. The two are arriving at the Winter Olympics after winning bronze in the World Women’s Curling Championship last spring, the first time the U.S. women’s team has medaled in the past 15 years.

"It’s fun," Tara said. "It’s nice because we obviously we get along and we’re friends on and off the ice. And also in the other sense when we’re not getting along … it’s a lot easier to talk to someone that you’ve always been talking to like that and just have very open and direct communication."