Monthly Archives: January 2013

A Ten-Star Night

The Washington Capitals do a lot with youth hockey in our area, both outside of practice and during games. I know many kids who have participated in the “Mites on Ice” event where a mite team gets to go out on the ice during an intermission and play a short game. My son did this once and really enjoyed it. His only comment at that time when asked what it was like to be on the ice in the Verizon Center was that “it was really white.”

This week he was on that ice again during the second intermission of the lockout-delayed home opener. Another event that the Caps hold is a shootout competition, which pits local goalies from different age groups against shooters through two preliminary rounds, with winners competing in the finals during a Caps game. They play it up as a “battle of the states” with the finalists from Maryland competing against the finalists from Virginia. My son was the VA goalie for one of the two Squirt divisions and thus made his second appearance on the Verizon Center ice.

A few observations from the evening:

  • The Caps organization does this one up well – there are only 4 kids competing (as opposed to a dozen or more for Mites on Ice) so there is more individual attention. We were personally escorted down to the locker room to drop off his gear and, as the big “surprise” of the night, each child was presented with a Capitals jersey personalized with his name and number. That was a big hit and got a “whoa, that’s cool” out of my boy.
  • There is whole little village down at ice level, below the stands, and people are scurrying around all over the place. We walked past the Wizards and Mystics locker rooms, as well as the Capitals and visitors locker rooms. We saw a bunch of Winnipeg Jets (the opposing team for the night) playing soccer in the hallway and passed one or two Caps players warming up. There’s almost a party atmosphere down there.
  • My husband noted that when we did see the players, they were smiling and relaxed and having fun. I think that is a good thing – they are playing a game for a living, so they should have fun.
  • The actual shootout event is very short and the tiebreaker is not ideal – they flip a coin in the locker room to decide which goalie will defend  for the tiebreaker, if needed. In our case, it was needed and the MD goalie and VA shooter got the nod. One shot – if it goes in, VA wins, and if not, MD wins. The latter happened in our case as the shot went wide. But I understand that they can’t let these things go on forever so it has to end somehow.
Making a save on the last shot.

Making a save on the last shot.

My son is 10 so, in his mind, he was the top VA goalie in his group and that means that he is the best goalie in VA. We have worked to tone that down a bit considering he didn’t face EVERY goalie in VA and honestly didn’t have to compete against many in the early rounds. What I have stressed to him is this important life lesson: half (or more) of success is showing up. Many kids either couldn’t make it to the early rounds or didn’t know about them or decided that they did not want to participate in a shootout. It is simply not every player or goalie’s favorite thing to do. However, if you do want to do it and you can show up, you might just win. Of course, you have to step up and do your best – that part is up to you. But you may just end up in your own personalized jersey out on the ice in front of thousands of people.

Or, as my son called it, a ten-star night!

Warning! High Maintenance Child Ahead

In When Harry Met Sally, Harry tells Sally that “there are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.” I would argue that the same can be said for hockey players. I should know – I happen to be raising one of the high maintenance kind.

Cover of "When Harry Met Sally"

The locker room is the best place to identify the types. You walk in there and see the kids who drag their own bag in, immediately open it up, and start getting dressed. They may, depending upon their age, ask an adult to help them tie their skates, but otherwise they take care of themselves efficiently and get out on the ice. They may joke around or banter with teammates, but that does not distract them from the task of getting dressed.

Then there are the “other” kind. Those who need prompting and prodding to stay on task or can’t find their gear or whine and complain about how their socks fit or that their skates are too loose/tight. On a good day, my son fits into this category, especially when it comes to how his socks feel inside his skates. That alone can sometimes require 2-3 tries before the skates can be tied. Of course, I have only myself to blame – before a run, I adjust my socks obsessively. This does not, however, make me completely empathetic. Particularly when in a crowded locker room.

And then there are the REALLY high maintenance days. Don’t even get me started on those. Suffice to say that we had one recently so it is fresh in my mind. We end up fighting in the locker room and both leaving in a huff. Not pretty nor particularly helpful. Who knows what sets those days off, but the locker room seems to be a great stage for them. I think it starts with a bad mood and is amplified by the amount of “stuff” that has to happen to get ready for practice in a short amount of time – bathroom break, street clothes off, socks adjusted just so, pants on, leg pads on and buckled and snapped the right way, etc., etc., etc. Thankfully, he is able to get himself mostly dressed so my involvement is becoming less and less.

I know that goalies are typically known as a bit “odd.” I haven’t researched the maintenance levels of well-known goalies, but from what I’ve read, I can imagine that if I asked their parents, they could relate some similar stories. Imagine Tim Thomas as a kid, having a fit like he’s had on the ice (you can get a taste of that from this shootout video).

I figure that by next year, my son will be on his own completely. Perhaps peer pressure will keep his high maintenance tendencies in check.

Or, perhaps I’ll see his coach emerge with steam coming from his ears. I can empathize with that.

 

A Hockey Obsession

I was reflecting on the ride home from practice last night how hockey is really all-consuming. More so than any other sport I’ve ever participated in. I’m not sure why – the cost is high, but it can be for other sports. The time commitment is huge, but I don’t know that it is significantly more than some other activities. Maybe it is because my interest in the sport extends well beyond my son’s team and his development as a player. For example, I  have found myself so much more immersed in the NHL since we embarked on our hockey journey. I know the teams, the players (even the player’s numbers), and even some random hockey trivia and statistics (although I still do not come close to what the male brain seems to be able to absorb and spit back out at a moment’s notice).

You’d think that after spending so much time at ice rinks watching hockey that I’d be tired of it and want to focus on anything but hockey. But that is where the consuming nature of hockey kicks in – I find that what I want is MORE hockey. I’d rather watch a hockey game than follow any TV show on a regular basis. That includes Downton Abbey, a apparent obsession for many of my friends and acquaintances (I’m almost ashamed to admit that I just realized it wasn’t “Downtown Abbey” the other day).

I do admit to being a bit conflicted, however, as the NHL lockout ends. I am thrilled to have hockey back and can’t wait to see the Capitals back on the ice. But I closely followed news during the lockout and I am a bit peeved at everyone involved. More at the owners than the players, but kinda at both. I’m sure I’ll watch games on TV, but not so sure I want to spend hundreds of dollars going to games as regularly as we have the past couple of seasons. We’ll see what happens, I suppose. I’m sure my son will be pushing to go to games – for him, the negotiations and money and all that is of no importance. All he cares about is that he’ll see his favorite players again. And he is overjoyed.

So, as I said at the opening of this post, hockey is all-consuming. The last time there was a lockout and an entire season was nixed, I didn’t even notice. Now, I have to somehow deal with my own hurt feelings over what has transpired the past few months. How bizarre is that? And yes, I do realize it is just a game and that there are many other very important things to focus my energy on today.

According to those in the know, that would include catching up on what I’ve missed on Downton Abbey. 

 

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Zombies Don’t Climb Trees

This post can be subtitled, “And other wisdom picked up on the way to hockey practice.” We typically carpool with a teammate and I am audience to two 10-year olds for 45 minutes or so each way. Having only one child, I don’t get to experience “boy talk” too often and it is quite amusing.

Once, during an intense Pokemon game in the backseat, I kept hearing about the different powers each character had (I really don’t understand that game at all and I suspect they both are making most of it up). Anyway, it appears that Pokemon is not as innocent as it may look, seeing how they kept talking about certain characters’ “psychotic” powers. Hmmm… I want to believe they meant “psychic” but since I don’t know the game, I can’t be sure.

Another trip included a discussion about songs on the radio and led to the lament that all songs were about girls and love. Imagine that said with the tone of “girls – ick, cooties.” Yep, gonna have to get used to that, boys.

I also recently learned that you should NEVER wake up a sleepwalker. If you do his or her head will spin around. That would be bad.  I didn’t want to ask if pea soup-colored vomit was also involved.  Or priests.

The latest trip revealed a little known fact (little known to me, at least) that zombies don’t climb trees. In fact, no monster can climb trees. Were you aware of that? I was not, but not having ever researched the climbing ability of various monsters, I am not in a position to dispute that fact.

I eagerly await what else I will learn during these weekly trips. I may just end up figuring out the secret to life.

If not, I at least now know what to do when being chased by a zombie.

Zombies Invade San Francisco!

Climb the nearest tree.

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You Know the Type

I have participated in organized sports since I was 8 years old. I have spent time watching my brothers play and have even dabbled in coaching myself. And now I spend a lot of time watching my son compete. So of course I have had experience with sports parents, both good and bad. I have also read a lot of blogs and articles about “those” parents. You know the type – call them passionate, call them invested, or, in extreme cases, call them just plain mean. I just read this article that nicely sums up how parents can be “good” or “bad” and it is worth a read.

We are very fortunate that the parents on our team are cool. There is no one who screams negative things at the boys during games or openly berates his or her child before, during, or after games. I mostly hear supportive, positive things and everyone seems to get along pretty well. I like that. As the goalie mom, I like that a lot. I have read (and heard) some stories about how goalie parents can’t sit with the others during games out of fear of overhearing how badly their child is playing or how it is all the goalie’s fault. Now, I don’t always sit with the other parents, but that is not because I don’t want to hear it. It’s because I am too jumpy to sit still and need space to pace. It’s my issue, not anyone else’s.

This past weekend at the tournament we were playing in I ran across some REALLy nice parents from an opposing team. I don’t want to get into any stereotyping, but I will say that these parents were from a southern team and, in my experience, you do run into nice people in the south. Not that there aren’t nice folks everywhere, but these folks were full of southern charm. They had only nice things to say about other teams and even criticism was pretty tame, like telling us that a team we had yet to face was “pretty small.” Now, I should note that some of the parents became my best friends when they came up to me and starting talking about how fantastic our goalie was during the finals. Since it was my kid in the net for that game, my feelings about these parents may be more favorable than they deserve. Ok, so they totally had me at “great goalie.” I’m a proud mama, what can I say?

To contrast, I did stand near one parent who was pretty awful, screaming at the ref and basically talking trash. And his kid, the goalie, was out on the ice pushing and hitting other players who came too close in his crease, collecting all kinds of penalties. Coincidence?

There is a great resource that I found a couple of years ago that gives great tips on how to be good sports parents for our kids. It is called Responsible Sports and you can sign up for emails that include short reminders and links to videos and articles for parents. I recommend giving it a try.

It is not easy to decide what to say and when to my son after practices and games. Sometimes I want to talk about something but he clearly does not. I am learning to let things go as he does and I am finding that he will bring things up when he wants to talk about them. So I am working on waiting and following his lead.

And I can always go and pace.

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