A View from the Bench

I have worked as a trainer for AA and AAA Midget hockey teams, as well as a trainer for Bantam lacrosse teams. And I’ve managed my son’s hockey team since he started playing. All “my” players have been boys from the ages of 12-17. And I say “my” because I really do take my job (paid or not) seriously.

Trainer! Trainer!

Trainer! Trainer!

I treat them the way I’d treat my own kid. Including the time I had to fend off a drunk moron from trying to beat up a kid in a hotel hallway at tournament. They’ve had me laughing til I cried and, yes, sometimes they made me cry. But I can honestly say the boys in this age group are … unique. Do I hug and kiss you or do I kick your ass? That is the question.

Some of my favourite people <3

Some of my favourite people <3

By the time boys get to this age, their personalities are pretty much set. Thanks to hormones, they can still be little powderkegs of emotional timebombs. Some are better at keeping their emotions in check than others. Some are prone to retaliating. Some are prone to smashing their sticks on the ice, on the bench … on someone’s head.

Some can’t deal with the emotions in a healthy way and retreat into themselves and their playing suffers. They might criticize their teammates, they might cuss at the ref, they don’t outwardly react but they inwardly combust.

Then there are the kids that let things slide quite easily. If a ref misses a call, they might grumble but the move on. They might get frustrated but they get over it. They focus forward, they stay positive. They encourage and they press on.

It’s been my experience that the kids that are more resilient and let things slide and keep their emotions in check are – by far – the more successful little humans. They appear happier. They seem to enjoy the game more. They want to play. They want to practice. They seem, well, emotionally healthy.

And here’s the thing:

There’s often a correlation between the kids who CANNOT control their emotions in a healthy way and parents in the stands who CANNOT control themselves.

No shocker there.

Here are the ways your behaviour is affecting your kids:

YELLING AT THE REF
Your kid hears that and it increases his frustration with the ref. He begins to see the game as “us vs them” and the “them” is the ref. He blames the loss on the ref, but never credits the ref with the win, strangely enough. When parents criticize the ref, it causes kids to focus their efforts and anger on things they can’t control. Teach your kid that the ref doesn’t put on his pants for a game and think “I’m gonna go out there and miss some calls.”

CRITICIZING DEFENSE
Kids should never criticize their teammates but for some reason (and this is especially true for parents of the goalie!) it’s ok for parents to blame the defense and yell at them for not hustling or getting back fast enough. It’s a team and there’s a coach and his job is to teach, coach, and manage the game. Kids should focus on their efforts and not the efforts of their teammates. When parents criticize a portion of the team, it creates division on the bench.

CRITICIZING THE GOALIE
Blaming the goalie for a loss when he has a “bad game” is counter-productive. It may not happen in the stands, but it happens off ice, maybe on the way home after a loss. Kids need to be able to adjust their game, strategies, and tactics based on whether or not their goalie is having a “good” or “bad” game. This is called being flexible. It’s a great characteristic in a human being. Perhaps if the goalie blocked every single shot, every single time the defense wouldn’t have to stretch themselves and improve their game – what would be the point? Teach your kid that goals-against is a TEAM stat, not a goalie stat.

YELLING/SWEARING/FIGHTING/DRINKING
Yeah. This is just embarrassing for your kid. I’ll be honest, if you’re That Dad or That Mom in the stands then the rest of the team pities your kid. And your kid can hear you from the bench. And the team can hear you. And I, personally, want to throat punch you. You’re an embarrassment to sports parents everywhere. And I can tell you from personal experience that other teams say things like “Oh, are we playing McKnight? That’s the team with the crazy mom, right?” You become the object of ridicule. Explain to me how this helps your kid? Kids should never have to yell “MOM! STOP!” from the ice because you’re fighting. Kids should never have to join in on the laughter about their own father because to defend you makes them look just as crazy. Stop. Just stop.

COACH ABUSE
As a sport parent you have to realize that there’s a coach-player and coach-team relationship that has nothing to do with you. At some point you should not be advocating for your child to the coach and your child needs to self-advocate. This includes ice time, discipline, behaviour, leadership opportunities, etc… At some point you need to stop sitting at the dinner table and feeding the spirit of malcontent in your child with things like “yeah, the coach should give you more ice time instead of Johnny, you’re the better player” and instead start saying “Have you spoken to the coach about your concerns?” If your child believes he can advocate for himself, he will. Unless he thinks YOU don’t believe he can.

(Note, there have been some high-profile cases of abuse of players by coaches, I’m aware of these situations and the above paragraph does not apply. If you have concerns about any adult behaving inappropriately, DO SOMETHING.)

VOLUNTEER ABUSE
Kids see what you’re doing. They see you when you’re barging into the timekeepers’ box to cuss out some other parent for making a mistake. They see you when you’re yelling at the lady volunteering at tryouts because the line is too long and she helped someone else instead of you. They see you when you grumble and complain about the amount of fundraising. And strangely enough, when they see you do these things… they rarely see you volunteer. You’re teaching your kids that volunteers aren’t valued, and yet almost every sport they play is upon the shoulders of volunteers.1015928_10151440173666175_1518763870_o

Seven ways to be a sport parent your kid can be proud of:

  1. Volunteer to help the team or the organization.
  2. Cheer positively, encourage resilience. “Good job!” “Next time!” “Let’s go!” Or my favourite: loud whistling. Kinda hard to whistle angrily!
  3. Know the rules and regulations – follow procedures with complaints instead of just complaining. Encourage kids to have sober second thoughts and follow through on issues.
  4. Apologize if you make a mistake. Then change your behaviour.
  5. Spend more time listening to your child than you do talking about the game – his performance is not a reflection of your parenting. His performance is a reflection of a set of circumstances on one day, for one hour of his life. It does not dictate his future – don’t assign it more significance than it has. Good or bad.
  6. Let your child see you encourage others. This is a team.
  7. Smile. Yes, smile. Give a thumbs-up once in a while. When your kid looks back to see you in the stands, don’t let him see your grumpy ass scowling with arms folded in discontent.

Finally, since not every kid can go to The Big Show, sport parents everywhere need to start redefining success.

It’s not a game. It’s not a season. It’s not an award.

It’s your kid looking forward to practices, games, seasons … loving the game and enjoying it with you.

My Favourite View

My Favourite View

 

Where Were You When …

… the Newtown shootings happened?

I was not where I wanted to be … 3 hours away from my kids, working as a hockey trainer.

Immediately a feeling of panic set in as I realized what had happened. It was Friday and I wasn’t going to see my kids until Sunday.

But here I was, with a group of 19 teenage boys, watching over them as they played in a tournament in Medicine Hat. I wanted to be with my kids but I couldn’t leave and I knew there was no danger, it was just my knee jerk reaction to the shocking, terrible news. I called my kids and tried not to cry. I cried in the bathroom where no one could see. I cried into my pillow at the hotel after everyone had gone to bed and I’d walked the halls to make sure.

Lunch with the boys. Friday afternoon.

When I regained my composure I realized the position I was in.

Here were 19 boys (granted, at 16 & 17 they are hardly helpless kids) who I had a role in protecting. Their parents sent them out the door that morning, too, and were probably thinking the same things I was thinking about my own kids.

So I did the only thing I could think to do – I focused on the boys. For this weekend, they were my kids.

It’s pretty easy when they are so funny and awesome.

It’s pretty easy when all you have to do is dodge a few pucks and sticks on the bench.

It’s pretty easy when you win the whole tournament.

Medicine Hat 2012 AA Midget Tournament Champions
NWCAA AA Midget Stamps

It’s pretty easy when you know for certain your kids are safe with your family (my daughter with my mom, my son with his dad).

I’m back home now – got home in time to go skate for an hour at the ODR (that’s outdoor rink for you non-hockey folks). We had hot chocolate and baths and I prayed with my kids and sang them to sleep. And I tried not to cry. I wasn’t very successful.

“I’m not trying to humiliate you, mom, but I really like to deke you.” – my son, the comedian.

We are in the aftermath now. I’ve stayed away from the news, stayed off of most social media. I hide overtly opinionated stories and remind myself people express grief in different ways: some attack, some retreat, some opine, some listen.

For me, I think about what it’s like when I’m on the bench, watching the team play a great game of hockey … and if we happen to be down I think “this other team is under the false impression they are winning … they are not”.

That’s right, I think that every single time. Even when the clock runs out and it says we lost.

Did you see my boys’ efforts? Did you see that shit? This is not a loss.

Because it’s not the score, it’s not the measurable amount of loss … it’s not the strong overpowering the weak or body counts or penalty minutes or any kind of measurable number that tells you the real story.

There is nothing quantifiable in true loss or true love. We can’t measure it or call it a fact. We can’t tally it. We can’t fill out a score sheet on good versus evil.

And that’s why I know … Despite all evidence to the contrary … Love is winning

 

That Which Angers You

I see a lot of anger today.

Election results.

People blocking each other on Facebook.

Viral hate on Twitter.

Hockey coaches hitting kids.

Bullying.

Best Mad Face. EVER.
MUAH.
I kiss that face.

The last 24-hours have been a maelstrom of anger, tantrums, poor decision-making (no, I’m not making a veiled reference to any election), and hurt. Mostly hurt.

And I am not immune. I have spent the last 12-hours being so over-the-top angry at an incident at a local hockey game that I had trouble sleeping and woke up tired, with a headache … and still mad. And here I thought I’d been doing such a good job because I had controlled my temper. I had not over-reacted last night. I was damn proud of myself.

Look at you, the redhead in the mirror said. Look at you being all grownuppy and helping people calm their tits down instead of riling things up.

But inside, I’m still angry.

I keep seeing the coach from the other team, intimidating one of our kids, rubbing his eyes like a crybaby to make fun of him. I keep seeing his one finger salute to our team. I keep seeing one of our own kids skate down the line to shake hands and not raise his hand once to make peace. I keep seeing the charging penalties that weren’t called. I keep seeing one of the boys, crying in the locker room after being checked from behind so hard. I hear the ref saying “well, coach, you should make your kids run the gauntlet so they know how to give and take hits”. I keep hearing the jeering from the other parents, and the jeering from our own parents.

I tried so hard to keep my mouth shut, to keep my behaviour in check. I thought I did ok.

But I was still angry.

Maybe you are angry today.

Maybe you are mad because YOUR kid got hit. Maybe because your candidate didn’t win. Maybe because someone on Facebook said something. Maybe you got blocked on Twitter.  Maybe just looking at Donald Trump’s face makes you mad. Or Obama’s. Or you husband’s/wife’s. There is a lot of name calling and talk of “moving to Canada” and “diggin’ up mah ammo” and “d-baggery”.

There is one saving grace for me today. For an hour I worked out at the gym. For an hour I did not think about my anger.

When the workout was done, I realized, I wasn’t angry any more because I had spent that hour controlling my movements – directing my body in all manner of positions and I had come to terms with the reality:

That which angers you, controls you.

Or maybe better said:

He who angers you, conquers you. I believe that’s the quote from Australian Nurse, Elizabeth Kenney.

It’s what I used to say to my son, many years ago when he dealt with issues of not being able to control his emotions and temper. And it’s worth saying again, to all politically minded friends, to all hockey parents, to all coaches, to all kids … to myself.

It isn’t really about that outward expression of anger. That smack. That word. That Facebook post. That tweet. Those are reflections of your anger. And anger is a reflection of your fear. Don’t let someone conquer you by taking your fears and boiling them up into such vicious anger that your minutes, hours, days are wasted in their service.

For myself I can say:

I was afraid someone was going to get hurt.

I was afraid my son would get hurt, he’s 60 lbs playing against kids 100+ lbs.

I was afraid that my son would think that behaviour was ok.

I was afraid that hockey – his Island of Competence in life – would because something hurtful and painful for him.

I was afraid that a child who has faced bullying so bravely this year would be completely undone by a conquered man. Acting in anger, out of fear. Doing more damage than I want to believe he intended.

I was afraid our coaches would also take part.

I was afraid if I didn’t step up and do something, it was going to get worse.

This isn’t about controlling your anger – it is about knowing the real reason why you are angry, facing it and realizing that it isn’t a threat.

But Heather, what it if it is a threat?

Look, are you sitting at your computer reading this? Are you under threat? Unlikely. You are breathing. Your heart is beating. Unless there is a knife held to your throat, a gun to your head – there is no threat to your life. If there is – fear and anger are totally justifiable. I’m with ya. I got yer back.

But stop slamming the cupboards and cutting off drivers and snapping at your husband (wait, just me?) saying you’re “fine”.

I didn’t want to get too preachy. I really didn’t. I just finally found this calm spot in the day and needed to say something.

Sorry my quote isn’t more eloquent than “calm down your tits”.

I’m no Elizabeth Kenney.

Thank You, Hockey

This post will not be about the terrible behaviour I just witnessed from grown adults. I’m going to let the authorities deal with that.

This post WILL be about how stinkin’ proud I am of my son’s behaviour.

Celebratory Ice Cream

I know, every mom is like this, I get it.

Bear with me, please.

My kid is the smallest on the team. He’s a left winger. When we started in hockey, I had to Google (or as my daughter says, “search up”) “left winger’s job“. According to Wikipedia “Nowadays, there are different types of wingers in the game — out-and-out goal scorers, checkers who disrupt the opponents, and forwards who work along the boards and in the corners.” My kid is the one who works along the boards and in the corners.

During the game tonight, he had some serious hustle. He was on the puck as often as he could be, he skated as hard as he could. I honestly have never seem him play this well.

It was a scary game because of somethings that were going on … but again, this isn’t about that. But he did not weaken. He kept his head up, he hustled, and he listened to his coaches. He didn’t succumb to cheap shots, dirty plays or name calling. He played clean.

His coaches awarded him the Hardest Working Player of the game. This means at the next game he gets to be Captain and wear that coveted C on his chest.

I could hardly talk, I was so proud of him. Mark this day on your calendar. I could hardly talk.

After the game I let him do the talking.

“Mom, I did not like playing that team.”

“I was so frustrated with the refs and the other team, I wanted to scream … but I didn’t, I knew I’d get a penalty or something if I did, so I just tried to play hard.”

“I didn’t get scared, I just tried to get in there and get the puck.”

“Everyone was frustrated, it was really hard to keep my cool.”

Imagine that – an eleven-year old kid, one who got suspended three times in Grade Three for unruly and disruptive behaviour (I believe “willful disobedience” was the term) had more control over himself than half the adults in that rink.

Argh. This post isn’t about that.

This post is about my son, and the character that he has. I’ve said it a hundred times: sport does not create character, it reveals character.

Despite the poor behaviour. Despite the frustration of trying to hold in what my inner toddler wants to say and do. Despite the disappointment in my fellow hockey parents (from the other team, not ours). I still say THANK YOU, HOCKEY.

Thank you, Hockey, for revealing my son’s true character.

Fair Play Rules for Players

  • I will play hockey because I want to, not just because others or coaches want me to.
  • I will play by the rules of hockey, and in the spirit of the game.
  • I will control my temper – fighting and “mouthing off” can spoil the activity for everybody.
  • I will respect my opponents.
  • I will do my best to be a true team player.
  • I will remember that winning isn’t everything – that having fun, improving skills, making friends and doing my best are also important.
  • I will acknowledge all good plays/performances – those of my team and of my opponents.
  • I will remember that coaches and officials are there to help me. I will accept their decisions and show them respect.

Hockey Marathon of Pain

If you have been trying to get a hold of me, I’ve been at the rink. A cold and stinky place with which I’m well-acquainted. But it’s not my son or my midgets skating, so why (as I asked myself at 0200 this morning) am I there?

69 Hours In...

Because some guys knew some guy with a kid with cancer, whose wife had also died of cancer… and they decided to do something about it. There’s a whole line-up of news stories covering Diamond Marshall and her battle with cancer. Basically 40 guys are trying to raise $1.5 million to support the Alberta Children’s Hospital. I know one of the skaters, but it turns out I went to high school with a couple other of the players as well. Good to know us kids from the ‘hood all turned out a’ight.

When you walk into the arena, or watch online, it looks like a normal hockey game… maybe a little bit slower than normal pace. Especially when they decide to switch it up for an hour and play wrong-handed. Then they kind of look like a bunch of TimBits out there!

But when you get on the bench you’ll see why they are moving so slowly.

Blisters.

Swollen feet.

Bleeding toes.

Raw spots from padding, helmets, gloves, skates… socks, even.

In fact I woke up this morning feeling tired and then realized while I’d been sleeping, these guys had still been skating. In pain, hour upon hour.

If you asked them they’d tell you how much it’s worth the pain. Some of them have seen kids full of life, turned to shells, then gone. Some have even had cancer themselves and beaten it. And they know the pain a cancer patient can go through. What’s 250 hours of pain?

I considered taking some pictures and posting them here. But who knows, Dear Reader, you could be eating. Because it’s nasty. I have seen blisters worse than any ruck sack march I’ve been on. Maaaayyyybe my Basic Training partner, Goods, had one on her heel that was worse… but at least she could stay off her feet a bit more than these guys. They do have good medical care, don’t you worry, there’s a staff of volunteers like me (EMTs, Chiros, Athletic Therapists, Massage Therapists, Nurses….) and even a guy who is on-call to come throw a couple stitches in if required.

Because the players have to live there for 10 days, skating for 4 or 8 hours, resting for 4 or 8 hours, they have cots set up, a hot tub and an ice bath… and treatment areas for massage and restorative yoga. There is an entire army behind the scenes to support them.

But I do want to show you just a little bit of support they are getting from kids – just like the ones who will benefit from their fundraising efforts.

Letters to support the teams.

This is a picture of a package of letters that arrived this week from a local grade 4 class.

In the scratchy, disjointed handwriting, the kids break your heart.

“My little sister died of cancer.”

“My brother was born with cancer.”

“My grandma just died of cancer, I haven’t gone to her funeral yet, but I will soon.”

“Fight hard so you can cure cancer.”

There are two teams, Team Hope (in white) and Team Cure (in red), and they are fighting hard.

They have to fight through so much pain. Stitches and broken teeth are the least of their concerns. The ongoing pain, exhaustion, emotional upheaval are enough to weaken many.

I know they have thought about quitting.

But they don’t.

Because a kid with cancer can’t just quit fighting today because it’s hard.

Because there’s a kid in hospital today that has only a couple weeks left and he can’t just quit even though his time is running out – he has to push through to the end. And so do these players.

Please, please, please consider donating to their cause.

Don’t Judge a Boy By His Smell

I remember being a 15-year old girl. I was awkward and shy (yes, shy) and I had no idea what to do around 15-year old boys. They were strange, strange creatures. Not much has changed.

Last year when I took this job as a hockey trainer, I was not certain it would work out. I was worried that it would conflict with my son’s schedule of course, but mostly I was worried about how the heck I was going to handle 19 15-year old boys. I still remember my first game with them when they skated by and all I could think was “jeez, these guys smell.”

I still felt awkward because I had no idea how I was going to talk to them or figure out if they were lying to me about being hurt. And I’m sure they just looked at me like some uncool hockey mom invading their bench space.

Fast-forward to today. Five months of attending games and Saturday was our last one.

I spent the entire day trying not to cry. It didn’t work very well and I had to keep sneaking into the bathroom to make myself look appropriately professional. No one wants a mushy trainer with mascara running down her face.

I was holding it together pretty well. I thought. I had a little speech in my head all prepared for when I had to leave them at the restaurant. I’d go around to the tables and say:

You are all amazing, really, I am so proud to have gotten to work with you and I hope that you all continue to pursue your dreams with passion. It continues to amaze me that you can battle so hard on the ice and still have all the pressures of growing into young men to deal with. You’re doing a great job.

But that’s not really how it went. It went more like this: I got up to go. The manager stood up to say thank you to mem the boys started to clap and say thank you. And then I cried. I’m not really a pretty crier. I’m more of the red-rimmed eyes and snot-faced type so I just accepted their hugs and booked out of there without saying what I wanted to say.

I sit here today, amazed at the fears I had at the start of the season. I was so wrong. These were awesome kids.

For one thing, they can handle so much more than I could at their age. It’s not like they told me anything deep and revealing, but when you talk to parents and coaches and gather that information, you get a bigger picture of each kid. Plus, I got the chance to stand back, see them struggle and battle on the ice, on the bench and in the dressing room.

Because sports like hockey don’t create character in kids, it reveals character.

And I saw some excellent demonstrations of character.

Oh sure, there was some typical teenaged-boy behaviour, but that’s what bothers me: as a society we judge that behaviour as somehow being WRONG. Sure if they are breaking the law or doing something dangerous, that’s wrong. But acting like teenage boys? Normal. And, I have to admit, entertaining.

One parent commented that I treat the boys like adults. Absolutely. They have more pressures on them than many adults I know. They behave like adults, they get treated like adults. They put ketchup on my shoe, I punch them in the throat. Well, not really, but I think they believed I would.

I do also believe that my team in particular was just awesome. I worked on other teams over the season to cover other trainers and I remember one instance where I actually had to grab a kid by the jersey and yell at him to sit down. There may have been broken sticks and temper tantrums on my team once in a while, but nothing disrespectful. MY boys were awesome.

Because at the end of the day, that’s who they were, my boys. I was often as excited to go to their game as I was to go to my own son’s games. And while I wanted them to win every game, just as I want my son to win every game, I’m mostly concerned with how they are doing/feeling/coping. Are they ok? Are they hurt? Can I fix it?

And they did a pretty good job, whether they knew it or not, of making me feel like I was a necessary part of the team.

Maybe you’re reading this and rolling your eyes, maybe you think I’m being a silly mom, but the revelation that these kids are awesome was a big one for me. I can see the future, I can see my son’s future, and I can smile, because it’s not scary any more. I’m not raising a strange, strange creature… I’m raising a son. And because of these boys, because I got to know a little bit about them as people, I understand my own son even better.

(And that’s enough for now… I haven’t even gotten to the parts about loving the team dynamic, even when it’s not working…. and learning to love hockey again… AND, learning how to be an effective hockey parent… )

My Favourite View

Hockey Parent 101

I wish someone had told me all that would be involved in being a hockey mom. I had heard some crazy stories about early morning hockey practices and insane hockey parents. It was all a bit intimidating and left me never wanting my kid to play hockey.

But. He loves it.

And strangely, I find myself loving it too. Now that I know some of the rules and have muddled my way through part of one year, I find myself TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY QUALIFIED (hahaha) to comment on how to be a hockey parent. I’m going to bookmark this post and re-read it in about five years and see if I sound like a complete idiot. But this is from a newbie parent to a newbie parent, so take it for what it’s worth.

(I’m also a trainer for an older, more elite team so I spend a lot of time on the bench and in the stands. This advice is a compilation of my experiences so far.)

1. Volunteer for something on the hockey team and then follow through and do it. At least once. You don’t have to volunteer every year, but if you get involved your kid will notice. And you will have a better idea about what’s going on. I volunteered as Manager this year and it’s my first year in hockey. Possibly a dumb move, but, as it turns out … it completely suits my control freak nature. Find something that suits you. Compassionate and good with people? Perfect fundraiser. Calm and a middle child with the peacekeeper gene? You have Parent Rep written all over you.

2. Do not yell at the refs. Just don’t. First, you look tacky because if your kid is a young player, you are yelling at someone who is maybe as old as 15. I refuse to believe that any ref goes out onto the ice and wants to make a mistake. They are doing the best that they can. You know what you’re telling your kid? “It’s ok to yell at someone when they make a mistake.” Way to erode their confidence in  you as a compassionate adult that they can call when they spill the milk… or need a ride home from a friends place because their ride is drunk. Second, everyone gets good calls and bad calls over the course of the season. Some will have a greater impact on a game than others, but for every game changing call there is someone who benefits and someone who doesn’t. Deal with it. Appropriately, please.

(Also, your association may have a process to deal with ref issues. Talk to your parent rep who can talk to the coach and ask about the process.)

3. Don’t be THAT parent that asks the coach why your kid isn’t getting more ice time. This is between your kid and the coach. If you have a concern, bring it up but don’t criticize the answer – it’s not your place. The coach is managing a team, not your child’s hockey career. If your child wants more ice time he will need to ask the coach how he can get it… there could be a multitude of reasons: he’s not good enough for a specific line, the coach is working on a specific strategy, something is being overlooked on the bench, there are skills he needs to improve upon. If your kid doesn’t want more ice time enough to go and ask the coach himself… he doesn’t want it enough. Relax and stop counting the zeros on his future NHL contract.

4. Remember your manners. Spectatating at a hockey game is not a competitive sport. When the other parents start cheering for their kids, you do not have to cheer overtop of them. Be loud and proud and POSITIVE. And remember… the kids don’t hear even a quarter of what you’re saying. My son watched a video of himself during a game and was confused about all the yelling that was going on…when had that happened?? Yeah… pretty much the whole game, buddy.

5. Don’t manage the bench. If you want to control who plays when and where, see rule #1 and volunteer to be a coach. If you didn’t step up and commit, don’t think it’s your right to say which goalie should be in and when. That’s between the team and the coach. You can almost be forgiven for wanting to know why your kid is or isn’t playing… but to say when the other kids should play? That’s the coach.

6. Please, please, please teach your kids good sportsmanship. I’ve said it many times before, sports don’t teach character, they reveal it. If a kid can’t win and lose graciously they are going to have a much harder time recovering from REAL challenges in life. It’s very easy for kids to get hyper focused on winning or losing.

The kids need your support and good behaviour just about as much as they need the exercise and lessons of hockey. It can be too easy for them to hyper focus on the outcome of a game (or even a practice) and we need to help them refocus on the more important things.

Don’t get me wrong… YES, being a good hockey player is awesome. Having the drive and focus to be a better player is a good thing. But when they start to focus on not getting enough ice time, bad ref calls, another player making a mistake… they will spend a lot of their time looking for reasons they didn’t win and who to blame instead of focusing on their own contribution to the team.

I guess I’m in this game for the long haul and so is my kid (at least one, so far). I want it to be the most positive influence in his life – amortized over his many seasons instead of based on whether or not he wins this year.

Having said THAT… we’re on to the Esso Minor Hockey Week Finals for his division tomorrow morning: Go Badgers!!