Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bullying at The Rink

While it may seem like a miracle that the Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series, it’s easy to forget – that was predicted years ago.
   Not by Nostradamus, but in Back to the Future II.
   In Marty McFly’s alternate universe, 2015 gives us things like the championship Cubs, self-lacing sneakers, and everybody’s favorite blockheaded bully, Biff Tannen.
  Our actual 2016 now has two-outta-three (which we all know ain’t bad), but when it comes to actual bullies, kids don’t have the luxury of hoverboards or time travelling DeLorean’s. So what do you do when your child encounters bullying at the rink, or in the locker room?
   You need to create an environment that makes it difficult for such practices to survive. For Westchester County Physical Education Teacher and Youth Hockey Coach Stacey Wierhl that means setting clear standards and expectations for the team that promotes the team first. “The coach is responsible for creating a team atmosphere that is about caring for one another. When each player thinks of their teammates first, the coach has done a great job to combat any potential bullying,” says Wierhl.  

     Supervision is key.  “The coach needs to be vigilant before and after games and practices. Coaches need to be aware of what kids are saying in lines and on the bench,"  Wierhl adds. “Coaches most certainly need to be present and involved whenever the team is together.”
  
   Wierhl also advises coaches to be that someone that every player feels comfortable approaching. “If a player hears or witnesses something that made them uncomfortable, the player must have a sense of trust and comfort in the coach to be able to openly share his or her concerns.”

    Bullying in athletics is real, and occurs across all general lines, at all levels. And when addressed, it can quickly cause its victims to loathe not just the harassment, but the sport itself.
    If you, your coaches, and other team members have empowered kids, then it’s easy for them to apply some of Biff Tannen’s own wisdom to bullying – tell it to make like a tree, and get out of here.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Clearing a Hockey Helmet Hurdle





    I'm going to miss that white helmet. She's worn white since mites.This week my hockey girl is strapping on a navy blue one, as she begins playing for a Varsity High School Hockey team. I found out after a post on Facebook, I'm not the only one with a silly attachment to a helmet color. A number of parents chimed in when I shared my melancholy feelings. "Noah switched from a royal blue helmet he's been wearing since he started mites to a navy blue one," wrote one Facebook friend, "It took us about a month and a half to figure out who he was on the ice."

     When your kid is the same size and shape as ten others on the team, having a unique helmet can be a plus,  "My oldest always wore a red helmet. My parents and I loved it because we always knew which player was on the ice with a quick glance. When people would ask which one was my son, it's a simple reply, red helmet," wrote another parent.
 
 But it's more than the plus of the quick recognition factor, that's stirred my emotions and why I'm having such a tough time with the retirement of the white helmet.

         Sophia picking white over yellow, black, navy blue or red had a lot to do with a gifted 13 year old hockey player, who was the playmaker on her big brother's team. He always took the time to pat her on the head as they lined up to take the ice, ask her how her game was and did she score. He never treated her like the annoying little brother and sister who runs rampant around the arena with all the other rink rats, stuffing wayward pucks into their pockets.. She was Joey's little sister, and he always made her feel like an important part of the team. Their little mascot.
      This teen who won my little girl's admiration was fast and furious on the ice, with strength beyond his years. His reputation spread and rival teams always knew to try and shut down the kid in the white helmet.  Beyond his talent, he was a class act. Never vindictive, always providing inspiration to teammates with less talent, and helping them play up.

     I'll always remember when he got the puck to my boy, who hadn't yet scored in a game, and then celebrating like he was the one who made the goal.  A phenonmenal football player, there were times when I think he had a hard time switching off that defensive tackle mode as he went from cleats to blades. The game he inadvertantly flattened an opponent as he was flying across the ice, then stopped to help that player up, was the day my girl begged to wear a white helmet. How could I say no?

     She's worn one ever since. I can't help but think those early impressions of her hero in the white helmet, has a little something to do with the development of the passion, and drive that I see every time she steps out onto the ice, her desire to keep things calm when tempers flare and the respect she has for the letter "C" she wore on her jersey.

     She's stepping out onto the ice tonight for the first time in blue.  So while I may not be able to quickly recognize her by what she's wearing on her head,  I hope I will continue to tell her apart, by what she carries in her heart.    
           



Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hockey Gear Smell Test

Need a hand with your smelly hockey gear? The Pog passed The Puck Hog glove test (as well as pants, pads and bag) One lucky fan of The Puck Hog Facebook page will have a chance to win one! 

Just "like" The Puck Hog  page and then post a comment or picture telling us why you need an assist. 


One entry per family please. We will randomly draw a name on Monday November 7th (election eve;) and announce our winner on Tuesday November 8th. Cheers to a sweet smelling season! POG is on Facebook too #hockeygeardoesnthavetostink


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sharing Their Skills

Sharing Their Skills: The Camillus Cougars Girls Hockey team took their hockey skills to another country this summer and shared their experience with Bridge Street Co-Host Sistina Giordano.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

What? No Hockey Bag?

When we delivered our son to Bentley University in Boston, stuffing every inch of our SUV with all the dorm room essentials, to the shock and disbelief of some friends and relatives, there was no hockey bag. What? He’s not playing hockey in college?




   That kind of reaction doesn’t surprise Plymouth, Michigan hockey mom Laurie Golden, author of The Trophy Mom blog, who points out that only two percent of athletes receive college scholarships. She’s seen parents make the mistake of concentrating all efforts on one sport, with extra coaching thinking, it will pay off with a scholarship, “We know kids that have played juniors hoping for a college opportunity and then enter college at age 20 or 22 with no scholarship, while their friends have finished college. My husband and I joke that if people took all the money they spent on camps, special training and extra coaching and invested it, they’d have no problem paying for college,” says Golden.
My son Joe loved playing defense. One of his most memorable games was in Lake Placid 

     While playing for a college was never on our son’s radar, or ours, early on in his life it was clear that hockey was his passion. His and not ours. 




 Kellie Merrill from Wasilla, Alaska saw that same kind of natural passion in her daughter, who played on a co-ed Tier 2 team. “She loves hockey 24/7 as much as my husband and I do.” But her son?  Not so much. The lack of enthusiasm led to a heart to heart before his Bantam year, which resulted in a switch from the rink to the pool.  He now loves swimming, “ As a parent I am passionate about watching my children enjoy what they are doing instead of seeing a lack luster performance because they think that is what I expect them to be doing.” says Merrill.

    Parents need to set realistic expectations too, reminds Wasilla Warriors High School Head Coach William Sturdevant who points out parents sometimes forget that the game is about the kids on the ice and not the parents in the stands, “It’s unfortunate when parents, for example, focus on how their player could have scored five goals instead of being proud of the three that were scored. Ultimately this leads to the player watching the “coach” in the stands and not the coach on the bench and their teammates.”


    “It’s really easy to lose your perspective,” says Golden whose eldest played baseball for Eastern Michigan University, another played ACHA hockey for Oakland University and her daughter played for the 19U Michigan Icebreakers. “You have to make a conscious decision to stay focused on what’s best for your child and your family. Now that my kids are older, each of them has thanked us for being sane, level-headed sports parents. The kids really are watching.”


    Hockey was a great run for our son who gained confidence, friends, and leadership skills. He had a blast and so did we, all the while, keeping it “in check.”
 


Alex Tuch is Primed for the Pro-Game

Alex Tuch is Primed for the Pro-Game