Bam! As I feared, my boy hit that wall head first a few weeks ago.
It was not pretty.
The long and the short of it – he was in net for two games in a row and while the first game was a better fought battle that ended in a loss, the second game was a big, fat, hot mess. A team that had scored only 8 goals in their past 3 games got 10 in our net in a mere 45 minutes. All I can say is “ouch!”
Watching my boy out on the ice was tough. He started to lose it out there. His head was down, he was sitting on his pads when the play was at the other end, and, at one point, after yet another back door goal, he bent forward and just let his stick slip out of his hand onto the ice. He was utterly defeated. If that wasn’t bad enough, my son, who has maybe gotten slightly teary for a second after a game once or twice in his career, curled up in the fetal position and sobbed on the way home from that game.
Now that both he and I have recovered from that weekend, I can think more clearly about it. We asked for some advice from his coaches on what to say to him and the overwhelming response was “have a short memory.” There are no great words of wisdom to share when someone has just had their butt handed to them. The main thing his dad and I stressed was that, no matter how difficult it was, he had to be the bigger player out there. He couldn’t let his team, his coach, or the other team see how defeated he was. He had to keep his head up and be ready for the next shot, and try to stop the 30th shot just as he had the first.
Yes, I know. A very tall order for anyone, especially an 11 year-old boy.
But, as his goalie coach said, imagine you have a job where, whenever you make a mistake, a big red light goes off and a horn sounds and people start cheering. That’s what happens to goalies and if they let it get to them, they are not going to last too long in that crease.
On the bright side, he was back in the net the next week, without complaint or hesitation. I was really worried about what another loss would do to him, but he was back to his old self. Yes, they did lose again. They lose a lot. But this time he kept his head up and stayed on his feet and worked hard to stop that puck. I love his resilience.
And that is probably the biggest life lesson taught by this sports-related situation – no matter what life hands you, you can’t let it beat you down and you have to stand back up and be ready for what’s coming next.
Everyone probably needs to take that lesson to heart.