Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Hockey Parents as Team Players
Wanted: Reliable parents to work weekends in cold conditions. Must be a good organizer, willing to answer phone calls in the middle of dinner, and keep the peace with dozens of well-meaning, opinionated hockey parents. No pay!
Coaches shouldn’t have to take out ads, but it seems every year fewer parents are willing or able to step up and pitch in for the team. Given current economic conditions, many parents are working longer hours and even two jobs, and have less free time to give. But as my wise Italian mother would say after our big Sunday dinners, as we sat there with stuffed bellies, piled up dishes, pots and pans, “Many hands make light work.” She would assign each of us a cleanup duty. Before we knew it, all six of us were out in the yard, getting in some last-minute play before the sun settled for the night.
That same simple theory can help your coach run the team, when parents provide assists. The trick is finding the role that is right for you. If you’re level headed, a good organizer and don’t mind fielding phone calls during the week from parents, consider the role of team parent. That job consists of everything the coach doesn’t have time to do. Sound overwhelming? You don’t have to go it alone; take advantage of the diverse talents and skills of moms and dads. You might be surprised how willing parents are to help when given a clear and specific role.
Parents who travel a lot might be able to wheel and deal team discounts for hotels and restaurants. Store managers might be able to score plates, cups or deserts for a tournament or team parties. I loved the year a parent with a printing company made wallet sized laminated cards with everybody’s cell phone number and e-mail address.
Skills in the kitchen can come in handy when your team needs to whip up meals for tournaments and fundraisers. I will caution though, sometimes finding the right role can come by trial and error. For example, running the clock for a game takes a very brave soul. You’ll find out very quickly if you can handle it the first time you mess up on the penalty minutes and become the object of ridicule and angry shouts from the stands, “Clock! Clock!” If you can turn a deaf ear to it, you will find yourself with the best seat in the house!
When kids see parents working hard for the team, parents in turn may see that same spirit and enthusiasm translate on the ice.