My Life As a Hockey Mom
Author: Colleen Macmillan, BSW, RSW
Having your children participate in hockey is a love hate relationship. We often forget what our children are learning off the ice and the importance of the role we play as parents. I loved my hockey years with my 4 sons, the experiences, the people I've met and the places I've travelled with them.
This is my top 10 of what I know for sure about being a Hockey Mom.
1. Check your kids hockey bag BEFORE you leave the house. Yes we always yell “make sure you packed your…”. Until your kid can drive, you better check the bag yourself because its you who will be driving home or begging an opposing teams parent to find you that piece of equipment you’re missing. My kids have left skates, elbow pads [usually just one], sticks, helmets and jocks. You name it its been left behind.
2. Hockey Equipment Smells. So do little boys, get used to it. Whatever equipment is made of will smell like rotting flesh within a few short months. Hockey gloves are the worst, even after showering that smell can be detected for days. Air freshener does not get rid of it nor does washing the equipment. Bounce sheets in a hockey bag – come on people! Don’t be fooled by products claiming to be able to take away that odor. IT ISN’T GOING TO HAPPEN!
3. Every Team has at least one parent that sucks the life out of you. Avoid them. You know that parent the one always starting the complaints; complaining about the coach or the assistant coach or the manager or just about anything. The one that keeps telling you how many scouts are knocking down their door in Novice. You know the one. That parent that sees your child’s shortcoming and everyone else’s and makes a point of making sure you see it too. Identify that parent early in the season and stay away from them. DO NOT let them suck you into that negative hole. You’ll thank me later down the road for that advice.
4. Hockey is a Rough Sport. There is nothing gentle about hockey. Have you looked at what equipment you are strapping on your kid? It’s played on ice wearing shoes with blades – I said blades did you read that? You use an engineered carbon fiber stick to shoot around a frozen puck. As your kid gets older they can even push other kids into the boards. This sport is not for the faint at heart, chances are pretty good your kid will get hurt at some point throughout their hockey years. My kids have been stitched, had concussions, bruises, chipped teeth, slash marks, black eyes, broken noses, torn ligaments, broken bones and bone graphing surgery to repair some of them. If you ask me checking should start in Novice not when kids are growing at uneven rates. The preteen and teen years are testosterone overload and fights are going to happen! Its part of the game! [Secretly I love a good hockey fight!]
5. Let Coaches Coach. There are years that you really do know more than the coach, it happens. If you don’t like the way things are being handled be diplomatic and go through the proper channels to speak with him/her. It may be that he/she was the only person who stepped up for the job or maybe not. At least once you’re going to have one of those coaches. Instead of spending your time telling your child what a moron their coach is take a different approach and help them find a way to get through the year without them wanting to give up the sport they love. In life chances are they will have a boss or co-workers who are similar to that coach, it’s a skill to learn to make it work so teach them early.
6. Hockey is not Fair. There will be a kid who gets more ice time than yours. There will be a coach who under appreciates your child’s skill level and puts them on the fourth line. There will be a ref who will make brutal calls against kids with better hockey skills just because. Some coach will take your goal scoring forward and make them play defense. Some team will cut your child for no apparent reason other than “hockey politics”. It happens, accept it. Spend more time worrying about how your child is doing and not the politics that go with the game. It’ll be a lot more fun for everyone in your life, including yourself.
7. Appreciation, Gratitude, Congratulations. I often watch Jr. and AAA games and listen to the crowd’s reactions to mistakes, lazy games and players who they feel are not measuring up. Maybe because I’ve had kids play at a higher level do I see it differently. I see a group of kids who for the most part have left home by 15 to play hockey not only to live out their dream but for your entertainment. I see a kid who left everything familiar in their life from school to friends to family to their community. I see a kid who misses family birthdays, anniversaries and weddings to play hockey. I see a kid who sometimes the only visits home in a hockey season is for a funeral of a grandparent, a friend or a parent. I see a kid who has made a huge commitment to a team by giving up everything familiar in their life for the love of a game. So appreciate what they have given up for your entertainment, show gratitude when a young player volunteers and does a great job and when a player gets to move to a higher level of hockey congratulate them for their hard work and dedication to the game.
8. Hockey Tournament. The love hate relationship of hockey tournaments. Do not leave home unless you are prepared for everything! On every tournament at least one person will get sick, need band aide or steri strips, have a fever, get the stomach flu, and require an ice pack or heating pad. I could go on and on but keep a small Rubbermaid container with everything you could possibly need while away. Do not unpack it when you get home, keep the hockey hospital kit in your travel bag or cupboard ready for the next tournament.
9. A Plate of Nachos. As my kids got older I started to notice their frustration with certain elements of the game. Even in a Tier system you will have teams or just games where half the kids are there to give everything and the other half for the fun. You can’t control that. My kids would come home and go straight to their room after a frustrating game. I learned nothing helps out more than a hot plate of Nacho’s waiting for them when they arrived. They’d sit at the table and vent about their game, eat some nacho’s, they’d vent some more, eat some nacho’s, you’d give them some advice, they’d eat some nacho’s and soon enough the mood is lifted and they’re ready for the next game. Amazing what a plate of Nacho’s can do.
10. Coleville, SK population - 175. Everyone who loves hockey should have an opportunity to live in a small Saskatchewan town at some point throughout their child’s hockey journey.
My husband and I and our boys were given that blessing for 8 yrs in Coleville SK. After moving to Saskatchewan from Ottawa Ontario culture shock is not a strong enough word to describe things. In our early 20’s we got thrown into what Community really means. The rink was the heart of the community. Not only did most of us have a key to the rink but most of us coached, managed, cooked, cleaned, scraped the ice, sat on the rink board, fundraised and whatever needed doing to keep the rink running. Even if it was using a hockey stick to chase poor confused Bats out of the rink.
There was no discrimination; no player “better” than another, if you were a body and had no skates someone got you a pair, no child was left without an opportunity to learn to play hockey, and no community member was ever left without a hot rink meal when they needed it. We learned how to cook great meals from some of the best seniors, how to drive tractors, roll up the sleeves and do some labor intensive work, we learned how to fundraise and most of all we learned about COMMUNITY and working right beside us was our kids. So when the hockey politics starts to get to you or you’re frustrated with your child’s team take a step back and look at all the lessons off the ice that hockey has taught you and your children.