So, the preseason is over for my son’s PeeWee team. Thankfully.
It hasn’t been the easiest month, with an 0-8 record (which included 4 tournament games and 4 preseason games). We won’t even mention the regular season game that was stuck in there, just for good measure. Suffice to say, the first number of our regular season record is also a 0.
There are a lot of reasons why things haven’t started off well – organizational expansion to a third team meant pulling players from the lower ranks, players with no prior travel experience, not knowing each other, still figuring out how to play as a team. The list goes on and on. Regardless, it is still painful to watch. And, based upon what I hear from the parents on the bench, it is a pain I share with many others.
I was really getting stressed about this, particularly since my son, as one of the goalies, has been taking a beating out there on the ice. Both he and the other goalie have been doing a tremendous job, but there are limits to what the goalie can do to help the team win. My son has stayed incredibly positive but when I consider that our season is not likely to turn around anytime soon, I fretted a bit about what long-term effect a losing season might have on his psyche.
Now, I am certainly not one of those parents who thinks that the team must win all the time. In fact, I am a fan of losing. I think it teaches the kids some great lessons about hard work, humility, sportsmanship, and more. I have come by this perspective honestly – I have lost quite a lot in my athletic history. And I learned a lot about myself and others through those losses.
So, my issue is not with losing. I am more concerned that the organization’s attempt to expand the pool of potential players at the PeeWee level and beyond may backfire and drive some players away from the game, instead of getting them the experience and confidence to continue on into the older age brackets.
I had a great conversation with my son’s goalie coach last week, however, that changed my perspective a bit, at least when it comes to the goalies. He told me that, provided the boys can keep their heads up and stay positive, a losing season like this can be the best thing that happens to them. They will face a ton of shots and have to defend the net from all angles. This will make them better goalies in the long run, with much more mental toughness than they had prior to the season.
I absolutely see his point and I have to admit that I have felt better the past few days about the upcoming season. Thus far in his limited career, my son has shown incredible maturity when in goal and has rarely been more than a tad bit frustrated after a tough game. He lets the games roll off his back and, once they are over, is on to the next thing (mainly, does he still have time to play with his friends when we get home). He does not blame his teammates and always points out some ways that he could have improved his game, but is not negative and has NEVER indicated that he does not want to play. I would fall over in shock if he ever did say something like that, I think. That boy LOVES to be on the ice, in the net, having that small black puck flying at his face.
Thus, I am going to do my best to sit back and relax and let the season unfold as it will. I will monitor my son’s attitude and behavior and keep the lines of communication open with both him and his coaches, in the event that he starts to falter. And I will be there for every game, cheering him and his teammates on with all my might. Because they will win some games – I am sure of that. And they will all come out of this better athletes and better young men.
There is, however, still the issue of how to keep the parents from falling apart.
Beer pong, anyone?