Tag Archives: Ice hockey

The Value of Tournaments

If you have a child playing any sport these days, you likely have experienced the joy of tournaments (if you have not, just wait, once your child plays at a certain level, tournaments will come). I recently had a conversation with my son’s coach for next season and we talked about traveling to tournaments – if we will and, if so, how many and where. The coach’s take is that tournaments have a place but if the team is going to spend the time and money to travel to a tournament, there should be a purpose, like playing against higher competition or getting the opportunity for more ice time than might come from league play. This conversation, and the fact that a ton of kids I know were at tournaments this past weekend (Memorial Day – a biggie), got me thinking about what I thought of tournaments.

I should start by saying that I have only travelled to 4 tournaments, and all were for hockey, so my experience is limited. But here are some pros and cons about tournaments that I have observed.

The good:

  • Team-building – the kids (and parents) get to spend a ton of time together at the rinks, at the hotel, and, most importantly to the kids, by the pool (finding a hotel with a pool is a MUST).
  • Experiencing other rinks in different parts of the country. We went to some nice rinks with great amenities and some that left something to be desired (the one with brown ice was interesting). Gives the kids a chance to see how others live.
  • Playing against different competition – and, I’d add, unknown competition. Sometimes it is good to play other teams and see how play differs, how the players differ, and how parents behave from different areas.
  • Tourism – there are opportunities to sightsee and visit museums or see local sports teams, which is particularly nice when you are in a town you have never been to before.
  • Fans – if you have family or friends in the area of the tournament, they can come and see the team play when they otherwise would not have that chance.

The bad:

  • Time – you have to give up at least a weekend and maybe more, plus the prep of packing, etc.
  • Expense – gas (or airfare), hotels, food, sightseeing costs, and souvenirs all add up.
  • Time off from school and work  – goes with time, as we have had to take a Friday off from school and work to get to our destination for a game or two that day.
  • Team closeness – this is more of an issue if you don’t particularly enjoy spending time with teammates and families. I liked our folks so it was fun to hang out and see each other, but I could imagine that it would be challenging if you did not get along with some folks because you do see each other at breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner, at the pool, at the rink, and even pass each other on the streets.

The ugly:

  • This mainly has to do with winning and losing. If the team does well or even wins the tournament, all of those negatives are wiped out and everyone is happy. However, if the team does poorly, then you find yourself wondering why you spent all that time and money and effort and social energy on this trip. And the trip home can be excruciating.

I’m sure I’ve missed some things for each list, so please let me know. Still not sure what our team will be doing (some local tournaments, yes, those requiring travel – not so sure), but I am sure that as long as my son continues to play travel hockey, we will experience more tournaments. Maybe even some requiring air travel, which scares me. I don’t even want to think about the bag fees for his goalie equipment!

 

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The “T” Word

Ally McBeal (1997-2002)

Because who better to understand over-analysis than Ally McBeal?

That would be “tryouts.” If you are a parent of a child going through this now, it is okay to scream. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Feel better?

What is it with tryouts? The pressure, the stress, the questions, the analysis. And that is just the parents. I don’t know about other kids, but mine is focused more on an upcoming sleepover than which hockey team he might play on next season. Not that he doesn’t care – he does and he really, really, REALLY wants to make a team. But he seems to be able to let it go once the actual session is over, just like he does once the game is over.

I need to learn that skill.

Because I am spending my free time obsessing over all aspects of this phenomenon called tryouts. During the sessions a transcript of what is going on in my mind might look something like this:

“Wow, there are a lot of goalies here. More than I thought. I wonder where they all came from? That kid has a cool helmet. Why do they have the kids broken up that way? Does that mean that this is the top group? Wait, they are moving my boy from this group to another – did he do something wrong? Man, that kid has some funky-looking hair. Hmmm, they are sending some kids off the ice early. Does that mean they are in? Or are they the ones that are definitely out? Or maybe both – they know they don’t need to see them any more either way. How many teams are they going to have anyway? Oh geez, he coulda stopped that one. Maybe the coach wasn’t watching oh never mind he is looking right at him. Is this over yet?”

At least I look calm on the outside. I think.

To make this worse, after the “official” tryouts were over, we got the email for an “invite only” supplemental tryout. When I first read it, I thought “OK, he’s in, they just want to see which team he’ll go on.” Then I started reading between the lines. Then I started dissecting the lines. Breaking down each word and creating new words with them. Maybe they already have goalies for the first team and this is to see who will make the second team. Or maybe they need both but they have more goalies than they need so there will still be cuts. Or maybe they are really intense and they want to see if the kids can handle the pressure of a “do or die” tryout so they can see if they can handle a big game (that last one is more far-fetched, but it did cross my mind).

I think I just may be losing it.

Why do I do this? I suppose it will come as no surprise to anyone that I am type A and one of those people who lives in my own head. I overanalyze everything. Except when I don’t. Then I just make decisions and jump in without giving it much thought. I decided on my colleges that way. Seems that for big life decisions I just roll the die, but little things I try to control as much as I can. I’ll bet a psychologist would have a field day with that.

I do know that this is important to my son. And I want him to have success in the things that he works hard for. And I am sure there is an element of my own pride and self-esteem at play here, too. For now, though, I have to wait and see and try not to let my son pick up on my anxiety. When he looks up and sees me outside the rink, he’ll see me smile and give him a thumbs up. And when he is done, I’ll ask if he had fun and tell him he looked like he was working hard. Then we’ll go home and wait.

And I tell my son that HE has a problem with patience! He comes by it naturally.

Good luck to all going through tryouts. I hope that your players get what they want and that you don’t go crazy in the process.

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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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What a strange trip it’s been…

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In his first set of pads, at age 8.

It’s been a little over two years since we began our hockey journey. When I look back, it all happened without much planning. Things just fell into place. Fate, perhaps? Certainly not anything we thought a whole lot about. My hockey experience growing up consisted of going to occasional Washington Capitals games (back when they played at the Cap Center in Maryland). I did not play and no one in my family did. We were soccer players, who dabbled in basketball, wrestling, track, football, and crew along the way. No ice involved in any of those, unless you count the icicles that would form in my hair when we had early morning practice on the water when I was on the rowing team. My husband did not play hockey either, nor did any of his family or close friends. Essentially hockey-ignorants. That was us.

Then my son, who was turning 7, wanted to have an ice skating birthday party. Not sure why – he had never really skated and had not been to any parties at an ice rink. Maybe he had a calling? Maybe in his young brain he had an inkling of things to come and knew he had to break out onto the ice somehow? Who knows, but there we were at an ice rink that I recalled from my childhood (and that still looked EXACTLY the same, all those years later).

The party itself was a disaster. A tip for parents out there considering this type of party – don’t do it unless you know that everyone invited can skate. Otherwise, you get a bunch of kids hanging on the wall and falling all over the place until they give up and just stand around. Huge bummer. But we did discover that my son was pretty much a natural skater. As much as one can be, that is.  Do we really have an innate need to balance ourselves on thin blades while going in circles on man-made ice?  Continue reading

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And what position does he play?

Shootout

Shootout (Photo credit: EricMagnuson)

That is typically the question that comes after I mention that my son plays hockey. And when I tell them he is a goalie, the reaction is often surprise, occasionally tinged with pity (especially from other hockey parents) . Goalie is a high-pressure, high-visibility position that brings with it a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. I’ve heard more than once how goalies are a bit “crazy” and I’ve read how quirky and unique goalies can be. Being relatively new to the game of hockey and having a goalie in the house, I am still learning about the game and how to best parent a child who has chosen to tend goal. That is why I decided to start this blog – to share my experience and insights and seek feedback from others who may be on a similar path. I also hope to provide some information for those getting started in the fast-paced, exhilarating, exhausting world of hockey. Not being from a hockey background, so much is new to me and I haven’t always been able to find what I am looking for so I hope to fill in some gaps and learn more myself along the way. I welcome you and look forward to having some fun. We’ll see how it goes…

Hope to see you at the rink!

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