Monday, November 14, 2005

I am a Hockey Dad

I am a “Hockey Dad”.  The obscene electronic beeping of my watch has gone off in the pre-dawn hours of cold Canadian Saturday mornings for 6:00 am practices.  I have thrown back the covers and left the warm sanctuary of my bed and wife to stumble around trying to find my jeans and toque.  I have broken the cardinal rule and woken a sleeping child. I have order many a large black coffee and a small hot chocolate (diluted with milk please to cool it).

I do this because I am a hockey dad.  What I hope I never become is a ”hockey parent”.  You know the types, you read about them in the paper. They are the anti-poster children of Minor Hockey.  They are the ones whose children will defy the stats, join the NFL and vicariously fuel parental hockey fantasies.

I first noticed it during the sort-outs for my sons Novice league.  Novice as in 7 year olds who can generally skate, can generally pass the puck and can generally shoot., but not all at the same time.   It is during sort-outs that the kids are assigned to level A, B or C.  Woe is the parent whose child ends in level C (the shame of having a child that cannot skate).  To them the ultimate goal is the coveted A (competitive division).

A conversation I overheard during the sort-outs.

Father 1: “So I told Jimmy to make sure he was never the first in line for a drill.”
Father 2: “Right, so he can see the other kids make mistakes and learn th4e drill better.”

I felt shame, I had not told my son to do the same.

2 weeks ago our team played a game that ended in a close loss 7-6.  There was a very strong player for the other team that scored 6/7 of the goals.  One of the mothers on our team went on a rant about how that child should not be in B, How he had no business in B he should be in the A division.  I do have to admit that the child was a good player, and there is a very distinct possibility he might be A material.  However, I don’t think it donned on her that 4 of our goals were scored by our best player, who is also borderline A material.  Somehow his performance was lost on her.

During the sort-outs there was a B team that was very, very strong.  !0 goal leads were not unheard of.  The idea of the sort-outs is not just to rank the children, but also to balance the teams so that each team is balanced against the other.  After our game with them several of the coaches and parents went to the league coordinator commenting on the strength of the team. The reply they received was that the league was honoring personal request for travel requirements.  What that means is that the parents on that team want to have certain players together to make traveling to practices and games easier (ride-sharing).  This is a noble cause. The interesting part about it as that the coach of this particular hockey team also coached soccer this past summer. I also coached soccer this past summer.  His team also dominated the league last year, and oddity enough the same core 8 kids on his hockey team this year, were also on his soccer team.  A team that has been together and dominating the last 3 years.  So here we have the worst case, a hockey coach, that is also a “hockey parent”.

The funny thing is that this attitude is very contagious. At times I find myself fighting the urges to pressure Liam to perform better. To sign him up for the elite hockey camps.  In reality I know the best thing for him is to ensure that he is having fun so I resist.  



At 10:30 AM, Blogger y-vonne said...

and your wife would not encourage that kind of competitiveness. It is about the team sport and the fun of the game, despite what the other parents say.

At 10:30 AM, Blogger y-vonne said...

and your wife would not encourage that kind of competitiveness. It is about the team sport and the fun of the game, despite what the other parents say.

At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Ursula said...

Remember a promise mad long ago on a cold icy morning...the warmth of that moment melted the ice away.....and beware, that day is not far away. Hopefully you will be out of the hockey dad stage to focus only on your promise.


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