Break ups are never easy. There are hurt feelings, regrets, maybe even tears. And, of course, the “reasons.”
It’s not you, it’s me.
We just broke up with our first hockey club. And I do mean we – being involved in travel hockey (or any travel sport, I imagine) is a family affair with serious commitments from everyone involved, not just the player.
We hadn’t really seen the break up coming at the end of this past season. It was not a great season, for many reasons, but our plans were to tryout again with the club this spring for next season. Then my son started playing spring hockey at another club and made a spring tournament team at that same rink. He immediately felt at home there – he liked the other kids and enjoyed the positive feedback that he received from players and coaches. When it came to sign up for tryouts there, he wanted to give it a try, so we signed him up. In an effort at transparency, we were forthright with the club that he was also trying out at his regular club and we went from there. Long story short, he tried out, he made the team, and he decided that he wanted to stay there and not go through tryouts at his regular club.
We’ve just grown apart.
Driving back and forth to the rink for all the tryout sessions gave my son and I a lot of time to talk. It was interesting to find out what his decision points were for changing clubs and to give thought to my own. What I discovered was that his decision was based upon two major things:
- He liked the kids and felt closer to some of them in a few short weeks than he had with his previous team during the entire season last year. For a 12 year-old, when friends are everything, you can never underestimate the power of bonding with teammates.
- He relished the attention he got. That may sound shallow but who doesn’t like to have his or her ego stroked now and again? The kids liked how he played and the coaches said the right things and the parents noticed him. He felt a bit like Superman. And he liked it.
I had my own decision points, which were somewhat different than his. What I sought was:
- A club where he would be happy, make friends, and have a chance to develop into a stronger player. He expressed to me that the new club satisfied the first two for him. And conversations with parents and the coach made me feel that the last criteria could also be met.
- An organization that seemed to have a plan. Not just a year-to-year plan, but one that looked forward and considered what the kids might need to reach their potential down the road. Again, conversations with the coach gave me insight into his plans and what the club would support.
- Some practical things, like cost, travel, practices, etc. Now, we already have jerseys and other gear from the old club so moving would require replacing all of that. And, at first, the cost of playing at the old club was considerably less. However, the new club decided to cut the cost for goalies, making the two clubs essentially equal. Finally, there was the lure of going to one rink at regularly scheduled days and times, something that we could not achieve with the old club where there were 3 rinks and practice days and times varied week by week.
We can still be friends.
So, in the end, we decided to accept the new club’s offer and drop out of tryouts for the old club. I finally realized that most of the loose ends and baggage that I felt we needed to work through to decide between clubs were really my issues, not my son’s. I had friends there that I enjoyed running into at the rink and, after managing the team last year, I had invested a lot of blood, sweat, and tears of my own throughout the season. However, I can remain friends with my fellow hockey parents. And I am sure I will find a way to focus my energies into the new club (but I won’t be asked to manage a team right away, which I see as yet another plus).
It does seem strange that we won’t be cheering on the same team again next season. And I am not sure what we’ll do with all the paraphernalia we have with the old logo on it. I suppose, just like during a break up, the details have to be sorted out and the dust needs to settle. But, just like break ups I’ve had in the past, I know we’ll get through it, move forward, and ultimately end up in a better place.
I think we are all looking forward to the next chapter. Onward!