Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Magical Mites in Minnesota

There is something magical happening with mite hockey players at the Champlin Ice Forum in the State of Hockey. As their small bodies fly across the ice, with sticks in hand and sheer determination on their faces, the 7 and 8 year olds in the Champlin Park Youth Hockey Association are chasing after more than pucks this season. The goal is bigger than scoring. The mission is to create a foundation to build good skils and good character. 

Education with Hockey as the Hook

Focusing on positive athletic experiences through skill development, combined with parent and player education has long been the mission for Minnesota Hockey’s Hockey Education Program. That’s exactly what’s happening with the Champlin Park mites.  With Coach Wade Gjervold at the helm, the lessons on the importance of assists and positioning, start early and are often repeated.  The gameplan is not all that complicated; come up with drills and team building exercises to keep the kids focused on skills and having fun.  

Teamwork 101

On the ice, there are many shining examples of sizzling chemistry. From the mites fist bumps to their line mates after a great play, to rock solid performances by defensemen Soltis, and Klein. Mackeben, Wekseth and Peterson have learned how to successfully plan and position themselves for face offs and passing. Goalie Catlett never finishes a game without a team huddle of thanks and appreciation. A tell tale sign of how much these kids enjoy the team concept comes after practice. Rather than rushing from the locker room to the parking lot,  you will see Zahalka, Brooks, Milton and Payne grabbing their sticks and practice balls as a testament to their love of the game and determination to perfect those passes.

Book Break
Off ice strategy has included discussions on how not to be an Eddie. Eddie who? There’s usually one on every team. He’s the kid who never passes the puck, whose ego grows with his stat sheets and one of the main characters in a children’s book called, The Puck Hog. It’s a hockey story with sportsmanship on the cuffs at all points in time. In January, Positive Coaching Alliance listed The Puck Hog on its Recommended Reading list, and described it as a delightful book that presents coping mechanisms for players with teamwork challenges. Mite hockey player Jack Mackeben was the first to gain possession of the story. After reading it, he decided it shoudn’t just sit on his bookshelf. He decided to pass the book to his friends and teammates. The story line had an immediate impact on the team’s lines, with the players passing more and discovering the joy in assists, both on and off the ice. To help her son internalize the message, Westin’s mom Sheila Gjervold, substituted her son’s name while reading with him for the character who was heralded for her unselfish act on the ice.

When Amy and Jace Reed read the book with their son Gavin, it gave them the opportunity to have those important conversations that focus on integrity and teamwork, both on and off the ice.

Parent Partnership  

The Puck Hog author, Christie Casciano Burns, is a veteran hockey mom from Syracuse, New York and writes a hockey mom advice column for USA Hockey Magazine. She based these stories on her children’s youth hockey experiences. She now shares a special connection with the Champlin Park team. Casciano Burns reached out to Jack’s mom with a request to personalize Jack’s copy of The Puck Hog. In a matter of a few quick e-mails the hockey moms realized they had much more than youth hockey in common. Both moms are on the same page in their beliefs that minor hockey can teach our children major life lessons. They are teaming up to keep the hockey experiences positive and help the kids realize a real star, makes everyone shine.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Positive Coaching Alliance Recommends The Puck Hog

Recommended Reading

PCA occasionally recommends books for youth sports coaches, parents or student-athletes. Many feature writing by or about PCA National Advisory Board Members!


The Puck Hog by Christie Casciano, illustrated by Rose Mary Casciano Moziak

This delightful book for children ages 6-9 teaches an important lesson about teamwork. Set in Syracuse, where Casciano is a TV news anchor and mother of two youth hockey players, the book focuses on a youth hockey team's struggle with the title character, a dominant scorer who won't pass the puck. The book presents coping mechanisms for players who find themselves facing teamwork challenges and can start discussions between sports parents and their children.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Hockey Mom Reviews : Breaking News::::::USA Hockey Magazine is run...

A Hockey Mom Reviews : Breaking News::::::

USA Hockey Magazine is run...
: Breaking News:::::: USA Hockey Magazine is running a fun contest on its Facebook Fan page. Share your tips on how you organize your h...

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Hockey Mom Reviews : THE PUCK HOG ~ a Hockey Book Review

A Hockey Mom Reviews : THE PUCK HOG ~ a Hockey Book Review: It's hockey time again and how can you not get excited that the puck is going to drop at arenas all over the United States? I get super e...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Minor Hockey Teaching Major Life Lessons

Minor Hockey Teaching Major Life Lessons
  as posted on NHL.com

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Former NHL player Steve Webb is often asked why he decided to volunteer his time as a youth hockey coach and travel throughout the country last season with the Long Island Royals' Under-16 National Team.
His response is simple and to the point.
"Because that's what people did for me in my hometown," Webb told NHL.com.

"When I reflect on when I was in minor hockey as a 14- and 15-year-old, I remember having NHL guys helping out the team," he said. "It was actually Doug Gibson who, over time, was the one who connected me with assistant general manager Gordie Clark to get my tryout with the Islanders. And it all goes back to sitting on the bench as a 14-year-old, not playing that much, but here I am. Gibson and Bill Plager assisted me along the way and provided advice."


Webb also mentioned another former player, Paul Crowley, who never reached the NHL but spent seven seasons in the American Hockey League with Binghamton and Rochester. Crowley, drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1975, dedicated many mornings in the summer to assist then-youngsters Cory Stillman, Mike Fisher and Webb.

"All these former players and coaches were amazing influences who assisted me when I needed assistance and dedicated their time," Webb said. "In return, that has made me feel that this is what I want to do. I love to see guys achieve their goals in life, move on and have successful careers."

It's just one example of how minor league hockey can not only help players with the skills needed to advance in the sport of their choice, but how it also provides lasting life skills.

"That's the reason I like coaching hockey in general," said Jon Greenwood, the director of hockey development at the Maritime Hockey Academy in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. "I think there are so many life skills to be taught, whether it's teamwork or being on time, listening to directions or just getting along … all those types of things are huge life skills.

"As kids get into junior high ages, that's when time management becomes so important with balancing school, family and hockey. Playing a sport and staying in shape is great, but I think those life skills are the No. 1 aspect and the reason I'll put my daughter in team sports … I want her to be physically fit, but it's the life skills that go along with it."

Author and youth hockey advice columnist Christie Casciano Burns offered NHL.com first-hand proof of the impact minor league hockey has had on her 17-year-old son, Joe Burns.

In an essay titled, "Challenged and Inspired by Hockey," Joe Burns explains to readers how he "defies convention through my work ethic, which developed and grew through my years of playing hockey."

Burns, who began playing the sport when he was 8 years old with the Lysander Youth Hockey program in Lysander, N.Y., admits he never wanted to be labeled a "generation now" teen.

"When I started playing hockey, most of the kids around me were more advanced. They started skating as soon as they could walk. This certainly didn't give me the edge in this fast and furious sport. But instead of hanging up the skates, I was motivated to work even harder," Burns writes. "I became determined to catch up to the kids who could literally skate circles around me, and [eventually earn a spot on] the elite travel team."
The essay is undoubtedly one of his mom's greatest treasures.

"For my son, hockey encouraged him not to give up," Casciano-Burns told NHL.com. "He started late in life with hockey, and couldn't keep up with kids when he first started. But he didn't give up and made him realize that if you really wanted to achieve something that you're passionate about, don't give up and believe in yourself."

Just about all of today's NHL stars began their careers as promising teens skating alongside their friends. Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk started playing hockey at an early age for the Brick Hockey Club down the Jersey shore. He starred for two seasons at Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, N.J., where he earned All-State as a sophomore in 2004-05. His breakaway goal with 6:17 remaining in overtime in the 2005 NJSIAA Non-Public final gave CBA a dramatic 2-1 decision over Delbarton.

"I look back on my time playing high school hockey and while growing up, my goal was just to make the varsity team at CBA," van Riemsdyk told NHL.com. "I remember going to all their games and watching coach Mike Reynolds. I wanted to play for them, play with all my friends and play in front of a lot of my friends who I grew up that went to school there. It will always be one of my fondest hockey memories."

P.K. O'Handley, the head coach and general manager of the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League, is a tremendous proponent of having minor league hockey act as a building block in life.

"I think mites, squirts, peewees … that's a large part of the foundation and those coaches don't get enough credit," O'Handley told NHL.com. "We enforce and enhance what they were brought up with in youth hockey and high school and take it to another level. I think we've taken great pride as an organization over the years that Waterloo is kind of a mini-pro [league]."

Burns wrote in his essay that earning a roster spot on the traveling team after dedicating entire summers to practicing every day was one of the most fulfilling experiences of his young life.

"Hockey provided a good life lesson for me," he said. "When I now set a goal for myself, I not only want to reach it, I want to exceed it and reach heights that I didn't even know were possible. That is how I defy convention in my life."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

When Hockey Stinks!

Oh the smell. You try rubbing it out and scrubbing it out... but you still get the stubborn stink around the collar, shoulders, elbows, skates and superior stink inside the gloves. How much can a hockey parent’s nose take?

We’ve had some good debates about the best odor-busting methods in the stands over the years. One dad keeps a can of shaving cream handy and employs a spray-and-rinse-the-hands routine after every game. He swears by it. Another mom came up with a kitty litter concoction that seems to absorb or at least mask the moldy mysteries inside her son’s hockey bag. I’ve always been a big fan of the tried and true method of constant airing and cleaning. We never let the gear sit in the bag overnight. We religiously hang it up on a rack, in a dry spot and clean it as often as possible. On a hot summer day, the gear goes outside and we let the sun beat down on it. It’s a lot of work and may not lend to gear longevity, but it has worked for us.

Aren’t you curious about all the new products now advertised, promising to make a mom’s life easier? Do they really work? Being on a tight budget, I’ve been reluctant to spend any extra cash on something that will end up on the shelf having wasted my time and money.

Then, a request landed in my inbox. The folks at Deodorall Sport (www.deodorallsport.com) saw this blog and asked if I would give their product a good old hockey mom try. They’ve won praise and glowing endorsements from NHL and collegiate players in the Midwest. Now, they want a New York hockey mom’s assessment. They’re willing to send some samples. I say, why not? If it works, I’ll be honest. If it doesn’t, I’m going to be honest.

Full disclosure and some background on Deodorall before we test it out. I was contacted by Paul Johnson, and he’s based in the hockey hotbed of Minnesota. Johnson says he and his two partners have gained access to a product using eco-friendly ingredients to get rid of that familiar stink that is found on hockey pads, gloves, bags, etc. The samples have just arrived and I’m going to test it on the stinkiest hockey players I know.  I’ll also head to our local pro shop for some expert opinions. Look for results in this blog in about two weeks.

Johnson has done a lot of research on the subject of hockey cleanliness, so I thought I would pick his brain about some of the odor-busting methods I’ve heard about over the years.

Here’s my Q and A with Paul Johnson .

Let’s start with gloves, by far the most offensive smelling of all the gear. One mom swears the best way to remove the stench is by putting them in the dishwasher ( no heat cycle though). So, are hockey gloves dishwasher safe?

     First, a disclaimer -- I am not a chemist but there are some brilliant chemists behind the product and the underlying technology). We agree on the gloves point. When we do product demos, gloves are the first thing we look for (especially the insides). The bag itself is often the 2nd thing we spray down. It is a little like therapy - one spray-down makes a difference, but repeated, simple spray-downs can eliminate the odor altogether. We have heard of others using a dishwasher for some gear, and while it may provide relief, it can’t be good for the dishwasher or gloves. It would also be important to make sure the heat actually gets to a temperature capable of sterilizing. Warm, damp conditions are perfect for bacteria growth, and that is what you are left with at the end of a dishwashing cycle with a leather or nylon product.

We all know the importance of keeping gear dry and aired out after a hard-fought game and sweaty practices. But road trips pose huge challenges, especially when you're stuck in a small hotel room and you risk suffocation by drying out the horrific smelling gear on the heater next to the window. Airing it outside isn't an option during our fierce winter months in Central New York.
     This is a tough one. The conditions on a road trip are not at all conducive to keeping gear dry, clean, or aired-out. Without doing to much of a sales pitch, this is a perfect case for Deodorall Sport. Users spray things down while still in the locker room, and see a significant reduction in the "stink factor" (a non-technical term we have coined for how offensive certain odors are). I recall my parents letting gear freeze in the car on those trips, or doing exactly what you said on the hotel heater under a window. It is the combination of repeated use, lack of convenience for cleaning (unlike throwing running clothes in a washing machine), and the fact that the gear is then stored in a closed bag that gives hockey gear such a unique smell. Somehow getting the gear in to sunlight would be ideal, but that is hard to come by during winter in the Northern climates.
Aside from the smell, keeping gear dry and clean is important for health reasons too, right? (thinking MRSA here)
At low levels, they cause skin issues (that is why high school athletes seem to have more pimples) but worst case the gear could help staph and strep strains fester. This is why we are so excited about Deodorall Sport-- the active natural ingredients are actually the same thing that can be used by surgeons and for wound care. It eliminates the breeding grounds for bacteria rather than just doing a cover-up. It is important to keep in mind that there are really two things we are fighting with the stink in hockey equipment: One is the smell, but another is the odorous compounds that are the source of the smell. A “cover-up” may do just that -- “cover up” the odor but it doesn’t eliminate the source. One has to think there is a correlation between cleaner gear and healthier players.

Do you need to wash the equipment after every game?

    This would be ideal -- I wash all of my running or cycling gear after every use, but it is much more convenient than doing the same with hockey gear. It probably isn't feasible, which is why airing it out is so important as well as doing something that eliminates the odor causing compounds (this is where our product comes in). In a perfect world, everyone would have two sets of hockey gear that they rotate between -- one dries and gets cleaned while the other gets used. I know the price of hockey gear, though, and it probably isn't realistic for 95% of families.
I have heard of people using vinegar with some temporary success, and have seen people wipe the fabric portions of gear down with detergent mixed with water and a rag. I'd say that is better than nothing, but the core problem is eliminating the bacterial breeding grounds.

That’s the seller’s pitch. Now, stay tuned to find out what whether this hockey mom thinks this product is the real deal or stinks!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

When Hockey is Not a Family Affair

The Balancing Act of Dealing with A Son or Daughter Who Doesn’t Play Hockey

With her hero as her motivator, as soon as my daughter could walk, she wanted to skate. She had been to every one of her brother's hockey games, sometimes with her nose pressed up against the Plexiglas, clapping her hands and yelling "oey" as soon as Joey stepped out onto the ice.

She couldn't wait for it to be her turn. It didn't take long for her wobbly little penguin-like struts to turn into quick, confident strides. She suited up at the tender age of 3 as a mini-mite and eight years later is still going strong chasing a puck around with hands firmly planted on a stick. We became one united happy, hockey family.

With hockey being such a high maintenance sport, demanding so much time and attention, I often wonder how other parents strike that happiness balance, with their children who don't play hockey. Sometimes affectionately called the rink rats, you spot them chasing each other around in the corner of the arena, or begrudgingly tagging along, forced to watch a sister or brother battle it out on the ice, when they openly admit they would rather be doing laps in a warm pool, or practicing scales on the piano.

Onondaga Thunder hockey dad and coach Marty Sicilia admits it's not easy, but he and his wife make every effort to give each of their children's interests an equal amount of attention. His daughter is a goalie. His son is an actor, singer and dancer. Marty grew up as a jock and his comfort zone is an ice rink. His son's theatrical world is foreign to him, but he takes the time to learn, "It's been eye opening for me and really pretty cool. I've been to the New York City ballet! Who could have imagined? As long as my kids are happy and healthy, I have nothing to complain about."

Sports has posed many challenges to the Coggiola family too.  Jill Coggiola and her husband John, a coach for the Lysander Pee Wee House team,  have been through the process of bringing along their three kids to events for many years with t-ball, baseball, and softball starting at age four, and then later with the addition of hockey.  " We also spend a lot of time at musical events as all our kids are equally involved in numerous ensembles as well. We approach all of these things as a family event. When our kids were younger that might have meant that we packed along a lot of snacks and books, a few extra balls and gloves, or in the case of hockey, a stick or two and a few balls. The kids learned to become comfortable in the different environments (be it a quiet concert hall, any number of baseball/softball fields, or the various rinks we've been to around the state). They learn what they should and shouldn't do depending on the venue and event. These are life skills that they'll take with them forever, " says Coggiola.

As for keeping the kids occupied during the long hockey season, Coggiola says, "With hockey, and depending on the rink, the kids often spend time either alone or with friends just playing with their stick and puck... it is amazing how long that can keep a child occupied! Otherwise, we sit with our kids and spend time teaching them to appreciate the game by learning how it works, and helping them get to know the players and their families. Our kids have learned to enjoy the sport of hockey tremendously, and to look forward to the social aspect of each game, as well. I have a feeling that because of the time so many of these kids spend together, from just watching an older brother or sister play, up until the time when they actually get to play themselves, that many of their hockey buddies will go on to become friends they'll keep for life."

Other hockey parents use instant gratification tactics to keep a kid from feeling tortured during tournaments and having meltdowns in rinks. They might buy them a new toy, a new app for their Smartphone or head to the nearest mall during an out of town trip. While that may keep the whining down, Licensed Psychologist Dr. Tanya Gesek from Syracuse, N.Y. cautions parents not to go too far to try to make things equal and give in too much to "make their kids happy."

"Fair is never really equal," according to Dr. Gesek, "Learning that lesson early is not a bad thing. Sibling rivalry can be healthy in moderation and helps kids develop very important coping skills to manage frustration and challenge as an adult. It is more than okay to allow our kids to deal with not being happy and a little bored once in a while without a lot of "stuff" or instant entertainment. In order to manage uncomfortable feelings, we have to feel them occasionally!"

Parents may end up feeling the pain, but these growing pains are all a part of raising good kids who learn how to respect each other and each other's interests.