Category Archives: Hockey musings

Burpees, Glute Bridges, and Planks, oh my!

My son received the team summer workout the other day. Four days a week of exercises plus conditioning for 12 weeks, designed to build a better, stronger, faster hockey player.

My husband and I have decided to join in the fun and do the workouts ourselves. Maybe we can build a better, stronger, faster mom and dad. It certainly doesn’t feel that way after day 1 – a bunch of jump squats, push ups, chin ups, and planks have me walking around like an old lady today. I blame it on the burpees myself – not an activity I often engage in and one that hurts. If you don’t know what they are, here is a good description:

                     Burpees – throw yourself face down the floor and jump back up! Repeat until you throw up.

Day 2 includes a bunch of exercises that I’ll have to look up to know what to do (cat/camel? quadruped leg raises?). But no burpees. My body appreciates that.

If I keep this up all summer, I expect that I will be in great shape for the hockey season.

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from 24.media.tumblr.com

Now, if I could only skate…

It’s been a year…

… since I last posted on this blog. I started this blog to write about almost anything, but my “theme” is about life as a hockey family and as the mom of a hockey goalie. To be frank, this past year I just have not felt like writing about hockey.

This past season was traumatic. Without reliving details, I can say that cheering on a team that loses all the time (not having a “losing season”,  which some would say if the team’s record was less than .500. but seriously losing almost every single game) is not fun. And yes, that is an understatement. In the team’s defense, they were playing up an age level and their competition was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. So losing a bunch was not unexpected.

What was unexpected was a series of serious and sad events that resulted in a coaching change mid season. I am not going to discuss it here – for my own sanity and to allow the team to have privacy. I don’t want the blog to turn into a trashy tabloid, after all. Suffice to say, things just unraveled from there and it was difficult to watch.

So why do I mention it at all? I suppose I need to excuse myself for not writing anything for a year. I thought about it a million times but I just couldn’t do it. I have dozens of ideas jumping around my head, but the thought of opening up the site and looking at what was there stopped me. I ventured on today and made a few edits to some other pages, as a way to dip my toe in the water. And that little bit allowed me to hit “new post” and start writing.

I’m feeling good as I sit here and write. And I am feeling much more hopeful about the upcoming year. The dark cloud has lifted and I am looking forward to the new team and new season. I have a feeling that I’ll come up with a few things to write about this year.

Stay tuned…

Germophobes Need Not Apply

Today, we went to the Washington Capitals equipment sale, where the team sells off used equipment and even some new stuff that the team never used the season before.

In other words, heaven to a 13 year old boy who loves the idea of holding something that an NHL player wore in practice and games. He picked up a few used sticks from some favorite players. He also got a glove and blocker, worn by two different goalies, that he already cherishes. I’ll admit, it was cool.

However, what caught my attention, more than the puck marks or the size of the gear, was the fact that when we put them in the car they didn’t smell too bad. Anyone who knows hockey will not be surprised that this was my first thought. Hockey gear is notoriously smelly. Just having gear in the car, particularly on warm days, can leave a stench that takes day to dissipate.

I don’t know what they do at the professional level to keep that smell in check, but here’s my reality – my son stinks. Not all the time. Just the times when he plays hockey or lacrosse. So a lot of the time.

I know that there are gear cleaning machines out there, but they are not easy to come by and can be pricey, so I have not used one. If the result is what I smelled (or didn’t smell) in my car, maybe I’ll have to suck it up sometime.

Thankfully, I am not too freaked out by dirt and grime and germs. Because, if I was, I would not be able to walk into the sports closet we have. Ever.

The 3 most disgusting things out there?

  1. Mouthguard. If left up to my son, he’d pop that thing out of his mouth, put it in the case, throw it in the bag and not think about it again until he popped it in his mouth the next practice. Yuck.

    Imagine wrapping your face (and nose) up in this smelly thing.

    Imagine wrapping your face (and nose) up in this smelly thing.

  2. Helmet. A helpful hint: if your child plays a sport that has a helmet, do yourself a favor and don’t ever put your nose near it and sniff. Really! Repeatedly sweaty heads enclosed in plastic and foam do not smell like roses. I have no idea how he can put his head in that thing.
  3. Gloves (blocker and catcher). See #2 above, but substitute sweaty hands encased in leather for hours on end. God forbid you should wash your hands afterwards, either. Just spread that nastiness everywhere.

    How not to keep your hands clean.

    How not to keep your hands clean.

I could go beyond 3 because, in reality, it is all just nasty. But these are the worst culprits in my mind.

Would be nice to have some professional help with that gear closet. Maybe the Caps can come up with used equipment cleaning day? I’ll have to float that idea to the powers that be.

Until then, I’ll keep airing things out and spraying them down as best I can.

And, after writing this, I feel the need for a shower.

Tagged

Specialization – An Evil Word?

I read a lot online about youth sports and all of the problems like helicopter parents (not just an issue in sports, by the way), irrational coaches, organizations with god complexes, and more. The one that keeps jumping at me, however, is the issue of young kids specializing too early in one sport.

The “complaint” is that kids are picking (or being pushed into, depending on what you read) one sport and then spending all year working at that sport, rather than playing other sports during the “off-season.” I use that term loosely because, in reality, there is no longer such a thing. Every sport is now offered year-round, with traditionally outdoor sports being conducted in indoor facilities during winter months and indoor sports just staying indoors. My son plays in ice rinks, which, in the dead of winter, can be miserable when the temperature is the same inside and out. However, in the summer, it is often a relief to head inside the cool facility to escape the blistering heat (the issue of clothing notwithstanding – I keep long pants, wool socks, and a jacket in my car all summer, but, then again, who doesn’t?).

If a player wants to, he or she can play the selected sport all year and never branch out or try other sports. As this trend has increased, so has the backlash against it. If you do a quick Internet search on “youth sports specialization” you will find a list of articles and blogs discussing the topic (see this MomsTeam article as an example, but there are many more).

I get it. I understand that different sports test different muscles, increase a child’s way of thinking about the game, and teach new skills. I have been a multi-sport athlete all of my life – soccer, basketball, some dabbling in softball, track, crew, soccer again – and I have learned a lot from participating in all of them. I also was never a top-level athlete, so I wasn’t really looking to “make it big” or spend all my time playing one sport.

Where I have my issue with this whole discussion is that it is most often addressed dogmatically (kids should not specialize and, if they do, it is the parents fault). I really dislike dogma, in any form, because I believe that there is almost always a gray area – two sides of an issue (or more), different ways to look at something. In this case, the other side of the issue of specialization is the child’s interests.

My son played soccer when he was 5 until about 8 years old. He wanted to play because my husband and I play and he wanted a uniform like we had (that was the initial reason he gave, at least). Around 8, he discovered ice-skating and fell in love with the idea of playing hockey. He was able to start playing at a roller hockey rink while taking ice lessons and he quickly gave up soccer and focused on hockey. He played hockey in the fall, winter, and spring at that point – he did not play any other sports again until he was 11, when he tried a season of lacrosse (while still playing spring hockey). That experiment was not a good one and he again focused solely on hockey (now adding summer ice time into the mix) for the next two years.

Look! It's not hockey.

Look! It’s not hockey.

He has now added lacrosse back into his spring season and is enjoying it this time, but he continues to play hockey year-round. Why? Because he LOVES it! He is happier on the ice than anywhere else and simply wants to be there. He plays on a spring hockey tournament team in addition to taking private lessons and he will have ice time again this summer. And that is where he wants to be. Is he specializing? I suppose so. But is it because of pressure to do so and a fear of falling behind and not making the top teams? Or because we (his parents) insist upon it for our own egos? No. And I don’t say that as a delusional parent – I would be happy to not spend the money on extra lessons and spring seasons.

It is because he wants to do it and goes into a form of “withdrawal” if he is away from the ice for too long. Seriously – we have small goals and hockey pads all over this house and if he is away from the rink for too long, he gets into those pads and starts playing around in the basement or his room.

So while I understand the arguments for multi-sports kids, I do chafe at the notion that every instance of specialization is fraught with negatives and obviously instigated by overzealous parents and/or coaches. Sometimes it is child-led and sometimes driven by a passion for the sport that can only be satisfied by playing that sport.

So play. For the love of the sport. The best reason ever.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

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