Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What Does It Mean To Be a Good Teammate? | Minnesota Hockey

What Does It Mean To Be a Good Teammate? | Minnesota Hockey

What Does It Mean To Be a Good Teammate?

02/19/2013, 10:30am CST
By Minnesota Hockey
There is something magical happening with mite hockey players at the Champlin Ice Forum. 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 (CPYHA) are chasing after more than pucks this season. There’s a much bigger goal than scoring on the minds and in the hearts of the players and their parents. The mission is to assist youth hockey players in building skills and character.
One of the main goals of Minnesota Hockey’s Hockey Education Program (HEP) is to assure youth hockey players have a positive athletic experience through skill development and sportsmanship. That’s exactly what’s happening with these mites.
The game plan is not all that complicated; come up with drills and team building exercises to keep the kids focused on skills and having fun. It’s about development with fun at all costs and not wins at all costs.
There are already many shining examples of how this approach impacts the kids. From the mites using fist bumps to congratulate line mates after a great play, to finishing each game with a team huddle around the goaltender.
The focus on fun and development has also generated a passion to improve in the players. It has become common for teammates to follow up practice by spending time in the dry land area working on stick handling and passing, without any prodding from coaches or parents.
This strategy isn’t limited to developing hockey skills though. The team has held regular off-ice discussions on sportsmanship. Talks have included topics like teamwork, discipline and integrity. The results have been awarding for everyone as the team has improved markedly since the players have discovered the joy in assists and started passing more. Changes have been noticed off the ice too, with the players acting less selfish and consistently looking to support each other, regardless of the situation.

What sparked this change in philosophy? Eddie. In the children’s book, The Puck Hog, Eddie is hockey player who never passes the puck and looks to build his ego by filling the stat sheets. As the story progresses though, it provides many lessons showing the value of teamwork and sportsmanship.
Jack Mackeben, a mite in CPYHA, was the first to gain possession of the story. After reading it, he decided it shouldn’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 entire team. It provided parents and coaches with the opportunity to have important conversations on what it means to have character and be a good teammate.
The story has provided everyone associated with the mites in CPYHA a reminder on what hockey is really about at that level. The focus should be on fun, skills and character development. With the help of HEP, they will look to keep those principles on the forefront of everyone’s mind for many years to come.
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.

Submitted by Lisa Mackeben, CPYHA

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