Tryouts and evaluations are just a few weeks away. Got your family game plan set for the season? Here's a checklist from good friend and travel team hockey dad, Bill Huba.
As a parent who never played hockey, I would suggest:
*CHECK GEAR: get a coach in whom you have trust and confidence go over the entire contents of your child's hockey bag. Make sure that you have all the requisite equipment, that everything fits, that you know/your child knows how to put it on properly, equipment is in good shape and that you know how to maintain it (I went half a season before I learned you could sharpen hockey skates). Do not be afraid to ask questions.
* HAVE SPARES: laces, mouthguard, helmet repair kit, tape (paper, cloth/friction, duct, clear), screwdriver, scissors, towel, stick, travel AND away jerseys. Bring an entire set of extra clothes to include socks, sneakers, sweatshirt. This also speaks to the 'Road Warrior' theme below:
*FOOD: Clif Bars (or like), water/Gatorade, gum at a minimum, always. Full load-out if it's a long journey: cooler, sandwiches, MRE's, etc. Be prepared to have the vehicle decorated with whatever you pack, exponentially factored depending on how many kids are along for the ride. Be mindful of food allergies of any/all occupants. Bring enough for everyone.
*CAR POOL whenever possible. Share CD's, DVD's (if there's a DVD player in the vehicle). Those of us who travel for a living appreciate the value of SIRIUS/XM radio. Be thoughtful - clean out the car before the trip if you're driving. If you're the passenger, offer to chip in for gas/cover a meal. Bring homework, books. Nowadays most kids lose themselves in their iPads, iPods, Kindles, etc, which can be awkward for the kid/parent who didn't bring theirs or doesn't have one. Be a good guest/considerate host - it's a loooong season. Flexibility and a sense of humor go a long way.
* CONVENIENCE ITEMS: Paper towels, tissues, basic medical kit, hand sanitizer, pen, paper, cellphone charge cord, Ziploc bags, umbrella, blanket.
* PREPARE: Stay informed, check your email/voicemail/texts. Know where you are supposed to go, when you are supposed to be there. Have MapQuest directions, GPS. Gas up beforehand, check washer fluid. Give yourself enough time - driving two hours is bad enough, don't stress everyone even further by having to do a NASCAR race through terra incognito in a blizzard.
* BE RESPONSIBLE: For yourself and your child(ren) Have your/their glasses, inhaler, medications, money, credit cards, cellphone. Have a current contact list with all coaches/parents info. Dress appropriately - hockey is an outdoor sport played under a roof. Play once at Cass Park in Jan/Feb and you'll never go under dressed again. Make sure accompanying sibling(s) are appropriately attended to - taking care of your kid(s) is not a collective team responsibility.
- BRING: A POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE!