Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Notes For Newbies; Seasoned Advice for Your First Season

    I guess you could say I am having some "senior moments." My son is going to be a high school senior.  His last year of hockey.  Wow!  How fast did that happen?  I can vividly recall, really like it was just yesterday, walking into McKies puzzled. overwhelmed,  full of questions about this sport  my 7 year old was determined to play, despite our total lack of knowledge and experience with hockey. I was into figure skating, my husband was a baseball fanatic and trophied soccer player and even pretty decent on the basketball court.   Hockey was never on our radar. Influenced by my sister, who is now a certified hockey coach, and his two cousins, my son Joe insisted on hitting the ice with a stick in his hand.  We agreed to let our children try whatever sport they showed an interest in.  He was lukewarm about everything he tried. Not a real dislike, but no real passion. But there was something about hockey that ignited a spark that we couldn't dim, so we both agreed to take a deep breath and dive into this unknown sports world.


     I was truly clueless about everything, from suiting up my kid to the surprise there is no half time in this sport, to knowing how to handle unexpected equipment snafus, like a skate blade snapping in the middle of a heated tournament, to preparing meals ahead of time, and making sure you budget for a very long, very cold season.   So the knee pads, go underneath the socks?  How exactly do they stay up?  Yup, I was about as clueless as you could get. While it was pretty overwhelming that first year. I was fortunate to have a lot of help along the way. Tricks to lacing up the skates with a skate key, to why it is so important to get the wet gear out of the bag as soon as you're home and air it out if you want any chance of keeping the stench down.  Oh, and if you're going to invest in a wheeled hockey bag, make sure you pick them up when you're going across the parking lot.  The salt and chemically treated lots and sidewalks will eat a hole in the bottom of those bags. I found that out the hard way and lost a neck guard somewhere in a New Hartford parking lot.
   I think I've almost got it nailed now, 10 years later, and now in the blink of an eye, Joey is entering his final year of hockey.  If I only knew then, what I knew now about this sport.  Grateful I had a lot of seasoned parents our first year, who gave great guidance, especially when it came to equipment, how to save on costs and not get discouraged when the season is filled with losses, chippy kids, and obnoxious parents.  I can honestly say the bright moments far outnumbered the dark ones.  Here are some more hockey parents ready to shed some more light on this sport that is challenging, surprising and incredibly rewarding. 

 I put the question out there on The Puck Hog Facebook page and here are some great responses.
    Erin writes, "  I didn't really get any, I was given a lot of negative comments. I was told it's the most expensive sport, that I'm setting my kids up to play a blood sport, that I'm insane.
   But I knew they were full of it! I never regret signing my boys up! There's my advice to the new moms, buy warm clothes and enjoy the games!"

  +Dawn ;"Not sure I like Erin every received any good advice more like run or get out now. But I think I would tell new hockey moms to try to relax and enjoy it. You spend way too much time in the sport not too. Your hockey team mates also become your family. You can't always pick them so just do your best to try to enjoy them. I have met so many awesome hockey moms thru the years and gained so many friends that will be with me long after the kids stop playing the sport.
So maybe a new topic should be hockey mom wine club. ; )"

  •   Scott;   "Hockey Dad here...When my son Spencer was a 1st year mite, after the 1st few practices, the coach asked if anyone wanted to try being goalie. When Spencer immediately jumped up and said, "I DO!", and after my wallet overheard, and exclaimed, "Wait...What?!"; A parent told me his son had tried the goalie position the previous year and had been devastated after a bad loss, blaming himself, etc. He advised me to talk to Spencer beforehand about how to handle losses and that hockey is a TEAM sport, and JUST a game. I talked to Spencer that evening and reminded him of those exact issues, and added that the 1st time I hear him going on about a loss and bringing it home or losing sleep that it would be the end of his goalie career. His 1st 'real game' as goalie, his team was defeated 13-1. Of course he was a little upset, but that evening when we got home I asked him his feelings. After pondering his thoughts (remember, he was only 8 yrs old at the time), he said to me, "Dad, losing doesn't feel very good, but that's all I'm gonna say about it, I still had fun, and we'll get 'em next time!" And they did! He has since gone on to be one of the top goalies in Midstate history (23-0-2 last season), and has NEVER brought a loss home (Other than just discussing the game itself). Hockey is the BEST sport ever, but...It's still JUST A GAME!!
  •   Erin ; " Dawn you are right, hockey mom wine club! I think all of us hockey mom's should have a end of season retreat! Wine tasting and hotel evening!"
  •    Jodi; " I never got any advice, but I think I have learned a lot to give some... 1. support your child first and foremost in whatever position they choose... 2. do not bad mouth coaches, or team managers as they volunteer their time for your child....3. the refs are doing the best they can... if they have parents screaming at them it is harder to keep the ids under control. 4. remember these are CHILDREN out there... not professionals... don't yell at them from the stands... the coaches are there to point out their mistakes and help them learn."

  • Jodi; " I also keep saying if they did a reality show called "the real hockey mom's of central new York" we would give the real housewives a run for their money. lol"

  • Jodi ; "Alex had the same experience as he started that position... We started counting his shots on goal and would tell him how many saves he had instead of counting how many goals he let in. That totally saved me many games where I am sure there would have been tears."
  • The Puck Hog ; I always appreciated the advice I got from a hockey dad the first year we became hockey parnets...the 24 hour "cooling off" period with coachcs. Wait to talk to the coach about something  you are upset about for at least 24 hours
    after a game. Emotions, both yours and the
    coach’s, can run high after a game. Bite your tongue, wait a day and see if you still feel the same way. That will give you time to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. Good advice, especially if you're Italian like me!

  • Lisa : " This is hockey, not ballet....As I was told by a Clinton Hockey Mom.

     True Lisa, but I have found there can be grace and beauty in this rough sport, especially when you see your children make those those incredible strides and precise passes,  and see them leap and spin for joy when scoring a win after big battle on the ice!

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