Side of Perspective? Yes, please!
It was just a routine post-game (and post win) dinner with a few of the players, parents and coaches. The usual set up with players at one end of the long stretch of tables and adults at the other. Conversation ebbed and flowed with the usual topics. Who scored, how they scored, the saves, the opposing team’s strengths and weaknesses, etc.
Somewhere in the midst of the rehash one of the assistant coaches ended up talking about her pet peeves from her years of coaching. Missed games, practices, attitude problems and lack of effort topped the list. All Then she made a really interesting statement, “maybe they just didn’t know what they were getting in to.”
While one might argue that it’s no excuse, do parents and players ever really know what they were getting in to?
This got me thinking about our first foray in to hockey. It started off with the Kids First Program (now Little Howlers Hockey) a 4 week stint designed to introduce kids to the joys of skating and hockey. At the time the program was free with loaner equipment available so it was a very low risk way for kids to get out there. Of course, I refer to it as the gateway drug. Give it to them free at first, get ’em hooked and THEN start charging. I am not sure but free puppies might have been their backup marketing tool.
Back then, I had no idea what I was getting in to. A lot of us parents didn’t.
Just because my goalie and I had gone to an insane number of Phoenix Coyotes games (now the Arizona Coyotes) it didn’t mean that I had the foggiest notion of how our lives would change when we became a hockey family. During that 4 weeks, it was cute, it was fun and she sure looked adorable all padded up like that. By the way it only took the coaches about ten seconds to start throwing goalie gear on her when she said she wanted to play goalie. You don’t know how many parents I have talked to throughout the years that have echoed this exact statement “it was so cute!”. But things start getting a little less cute when you realize:
It’s a huge time commitment Practices at least once a week, a game once a week and that’s just for house hockey. Move in to travel hockey and you can expect those numbers to triple.
The costs The main thorn in every hockey parents’ side. It can cost thousands just in ice time to keep your kid out there. Throw in all the gear you have to buy, and replace as they keep growing, and the bill just gets bigger. And if you have a goalie? Just get a second mortgage on your house.
Travel Not all teams have to travel to be competitive but here in Arizona and particularly in girls hockey if you want to compete you need to go. And sometimes far. Stock up on airline miles, frequent stay programs and get over being squeamish about sharing, that hockey parent might be your next roommate.
Then there’s the pressure of competition, the pressure that kids put on themselves, the pressure from coaches, parents and associations.
By now all of this is old hat (or beanie) and a lot of us have made it through because, at the end of the day, your kid love it and the benefits of having a child in sports generally outweighs the inconveniences.
But for someone new it’s a huge lifestyle change and unsympathetic parents and coaches don’t make it any easier. A little compassion goes a long way and it might be helpful if you remember what it was like to walk, or skate, in those shoes.