Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thanks to Hockey...

Thanks to Hockey…you may like golf!
  by guest blogger Caroline Stanistreet

During my visit to last week’s PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, I witnessed dozens of children fighting for autographs from Phil, Keegan, Rory, Bubba, numerous other international pros, and this year’s PGA champion, Jason Dufner.

Rory McIlroy amidst a sea of umbrellas during Friday's round
2013 PGA Champion Jason Dufner

Since my veteran youth hockey player has been severely bitten by the golf bug the past few years, I’ve taken a look at what the sport of hockey has done, fundamentally, for kids interested in taking up the sport of golf.
Happy Gilmore

 No, I'm not suggesting all of you Happy Gilmore wannabees head out to the golf course and try his trademark slapshot with a hockey stick on the tee box, nor throw a punch at the nearest Bob Barker lookalike. It simply may be a nice “life sport” to consider, since people well into their 80s are able to still play, and play quite well!

The hockey swing provides the "raw material,” so to speak, with which one can transition to a decent golf swing. Central New York PGA Professional Linda Mulherin says the advantage that many hockey players have is what’s called the “lag.”  During the downswing, it’s how far the club head “lags” behind the hands before the release. But, most people who don’t play hockey release early before impact, and the later it’s released, the better the results. 

Paul Casey 

In addition to the lag in the swing as an advantage for an average hockey player to become a decent golfer, it’s no secret that golf teaches some of life’s most important lessons. First, there is etiquette. There's nothing more refreshing than to attend your child's junior golf tournament and hear just about every 12-16 year old (and I'm talking BOYS here) say "please" and "thank you." Manners are in abundance on the golf course! Golf parents are also a breath of fresh air (although the summertime air on the course can be sticky) as they encourage kids other than their own to play well, and their overall support is amazing.

Ricky Fowler 

The kids are dressed impeccably, with collared shirts tucked in, a rainbow of colored attire and of course, the head-to-toe Rickie Fowler trademark orange donned by a few players.



The other great lesson in life is patience. With the exception of a faceoff or a power play, hockey players are not supposed to be patient. They move constantly, they turn, and then they halt in front of the net, only to move again.  In golf, they wait. They wait for the foursome ahead of them, then they wait for others to swing, then to line up a putt, and it goes on and on.


Graham DeLeet walking up to #14 to his drive on green


We, as spectators, were quite patient as we waited for some of the pros to come up on Hole 14 at Oak Hill and see just how far they could drive.  We saw PGA pro and former hockey player Graham DeLaet drive the green on what is a par 4, and only a handful of these players were able to do so the entire weekend.


PGA professionals Jerry Kelly, Swedish golfer Jonas Blixt and Canadian pros DeLaet, Mike Wier and David Hearn were hockey players, although their swings certainly don't match the one-of-a-kind slapshot swing of Happy Gilmore's. Hearn, who lives in Wayne Gretzky’s hometown of Brantford, Ontario, was interviewed during the PGA last week and simply said, “In the winter we played hockey, in the summer we played golf.” Golf kept their hockey swings in check and vice versa. As a small sized pre-teen, Hearn stopped youth hockey in Canada the year checking began, but with the encouragement of his father, Hearn made the great decision to stay with golf.  It’s likely if you visit a golf course, you will find a number of adult golfers who played hockey when they were kids. 


As summer is winding down and many hockey players are dreaming of lacing up their skates again for another season, there is still plenty of time to visit one of the numerous courses in your area and give golf a try. Golf course rates are terrific in the fall and there are some fantastic PGA instructors to start you on your way to something you can do with your whole family.  But -- don’t wear a hockey jersey and keep the “other” stick at home.

Adam Scott 

Caroline Stanistreet is a veteran hockey mom from Camillus, New York

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Pros and Cons of Buying Used Hockey Gear

     When is it safe to scrimp and when should you cough up the cash to buy equipment fresh off the rack? The debate among my hockey Facebook friends included Skaneateles, N.Y. hockey mom Alyssa Tauber Militello with a simple response, “Pro: Cost. Con: The stink of a stranger.” You make a pungent point Alyssa! Stink can sink any savings.

     There’s nothing cheap about hockey, and your wallet can take a beating, especially when your kids are growing like weeds. Who can blame a parent for wanting to buy used? But, buyer beware. I teamed up with Pittsburgh’s Frugal mom, Dana Vento, also of A Hockey Mom with some factors to consider. Her top concern: safety. Helmets, chest protectors, gloves and face masks are all pieces that are best bought new. Materials like padding, foam, and straps can wear down over time, and can fail to protect our kids. As padding is used over and over, it hardens, leaving it less padded. Face masks and helmets have new safety guidelines. Avoid buying used because it’s tough to tell how new the equipment is. Gloves have critical padding to withstand the hit of hockey sticks, pucks and skates. Missing or worn down pads can lead to hand injuries. Be sure to check the shells of used skates. They have to be in great shape for all those hits. At garage sales, the price may look right, but consider what you don’t know. How long has the gear been in an attic, garage or shed? How much sun, heat or play time has the equipment been exposed to? There are some pieces of equipment you can purchase without worry, including hockey socks, elbow pads, knee pads (without cracks), sticks, and pants with no rips, tears or missing padding. For the U8 hockey players, who see less action, it’s a safer purchase used.

     I  admire Fulton, N.Y. hockey dad Todd Shear for turning this topic into teachable moments. “We try and make our son understand the cost of his activities, how many hours he and we would have to work to make the money to buy it and let him know if he wants to buy new he can pitch in 50% of it, which he does sometimes. He values and takes care of his stuff much better this way.” The pro in purchasing used equipment is saving money, but carefully inspect the gear. As Vento points out, “When buying used, you can never be too careful.” You may save a few bucks, but consider what it could end up costing. If your player is not protected, there are no second chances.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Get Your Gear in Order


                 Save money. Recycle and reuse when you can.   

                                         Guess what this use to be?
                        Hint:  You probably have one in your driveway.

   Yes, it was once a plastic driveway hockey net and it saw a lot of action.  It was time for a new one,  but rather than tossing it out,  its PVC pipes were connected to make a sturdy equipment drying rack.  ( Brilliant! Wish I could take credit)

But we're just getting started.  Hockey mom Teri Parks takes it from here  

Biggest complaint as a hockey parent is where to put all that (stinky!) hockey equipment..well, unless you have your own locker room in your home, this is sometimes challenging. A whole article can be written alone on how to avoid smelly hockey equipment and skates. But, the first task to tackle in organizing your hockey household is to have an equipment "drying area". This can be a section of the basement, mudroom or part of the laundry room as long as there is air circulating and it's at room temperature. It's important for you to dry equipment in a warm room as it will dry faster and there is less chance for bacteria to grow. There are many cheap drying racks available that you can hang equipment on between uses. Or you can even make your own using hockey sticks! ("hockey stick tree stand") If the only space you have available is in the garage, I would suggest a "hockey locker" or cabinet that contains a heat drying system (you can find these pretty reasonably priced online). A hockey cabinet not only serves a purpose of drying the equipment, but also acts as a place of storage so, visually it makes things look neater in your space.

-HOCKEY BAG:The hockey bags purpose is to transport the equipment, not to keep hockey equipment inside for hours and hours. After each game/practice, the equipment should be taken out of the bag and hung up to dry as mentioned above. Once you've designated an area of your house as the "drying area" for the equipment, there also needs to be a place to hang/put the hockey bag other than the floor. Any strong wall hook (may need two) can hold a hockey bag or you can use a coat rack (or "hockey stick tree stand" again), especially if you have more than one to keep things vertical, which uses less space.

-HOCKEY SKATES: Hockey skates are not cheap and should also be cared for properly and stored in there own designated place. An inexpensive tip to drying skates faster is to place them on your register heaters or the use of drying racks will also do the trick. Once dry, skates can be stored away in decorative bins on shelving unit next to equipment. Be sure to use blade covers on skates when putting in bins. Or you can mount metal skate organizing racks to wall.

-HOCKEY STICKS: There are several ways you can store hockey sticks. There are many varieties of stick wall mounts available. Be sure to place them on a wall where it would be easy to just grab and go. If you have a hockey equipment cabinet, you can mount two stingle hockey stick holders on each side giving you a spot to place four sticks. If your hockey equipment area is in the basement and you have lower hanging ceilings, you can make your own overhanging hockey stick holder by using two pieces of 4x4's about 6.5 feet long, screw in four heavy duty screw hooks (two on each end of 4x4), hang steel linked chain (length depends on how low you want holder to hang down from ceiling) pieces on each four screw hooks and mount to ceiling. Once holder is up, place hockey sticks along 4x4's...can hold up to 20 sticks!

-HOCKEY JERSEYS: You can use a simple portable clothes rack with hangers for hockey jerseys that is in the open for drying purposes or once jersey is dry, place in a closet/cabinet that would be near the rest of the equipment.

Another suggestion in keeping your hockey area neat and presentable is to use a corner of a wall (ex: basement or garage) and build out a 5'width x 2-3'deep area using two wood or metal rods from one wall to the other near the ceiling where you can hang a curtain. This way everything is contained and organized in one concealed spot, air is able to circulate for drying purposes and it would be decoratively appealing.

Overall, when organizing your hockey space you need to keep these things in mind...needs to be functional for drying, room enough to keep all hockey items together (you don't want your equipment in the basement, hockey sticks in the garage and skates in the mudroom..all over the house!), everything needs to have a home/neatly stored and last but not least, keep it as decorativley appealing as possible!

Teri Parks
Design Appeal Home Staging

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Preseason Prep

    Time to start watching for new hockey season registrations to land in the inbox. I know my daughter is eager to get back on the ice and I'm looking forward to seeing our hockey friends again too. Starting off on the right foot (or skate) is a goal and I've always felt the preseason meeting can help with a smooth launch.  Before you roll your eyes, look at your already filling up fast calendar and sigh at the though of yet another meeting, keep in mind how valuable a preseason meeting can be. It can really make the difference between a season that is fun or one that is long and miserable. Here's your chance to make sure everyone is playing from the same play book. Cambridge,  Massachusetts hockey parents Steve and Jessica Kennedy agree and they oodles of advice to share with hockey parents, especially newbies.  With years of experience under their belts, they could probably write a book, but here's the "Reader's Digest" version to help you prep for the new season.

  Hockey requires a commitment from both players and family, however, there are other things going on in a child’s life than hockey. This is especially true given how the season has been extended for most of the year (late Aug./Sept. through April/May!). It is easy for kids to fall into the trap of playing hockey year round with spring/summer leagues, tournaments, etc. (a bad idea according to sports experts-the best athletes play more than one sport). If my child is involved with other sports I would want to make sure that the coach understands there may be conflicts with sports that are traditionally played in the fall and spring. While it is fair to presume a child’s “winter” sport is hockey, there should be a level of understanding from the coaches that scheduling issues are inevitable in the fall and spring. Not to mention activities other than sports (dance for our girls), scouting, music, and of course school trips, etc.


What is the coaching staff’s philosophy about playing time and positions? At the younger levels (mites and squirts here in MA) I don’t believe in any player or line getting more ice time than another. Hockey is one of the easiest sports to substitute players so nobody at this age level should be “on the bench” longer than anyone else. The same goes for “special teams” - every player needs the experience of playing on the power play or penalty kill. Hockey at this age should be about DEVELOPMENT – not winning every single game (wishful thinking I know..). To that end I would also hope to hear that players won’t be stuck in one position and will learn to play right wing, left wing, center and defense!!


One of our favorite experiences was with our youngest daughter’s team. She could barely stand on the ice, much less skate forward or backward. She happened to have a coach (Canadian!!) who not only had an upbeat attitude but was dedicated to teaching the girls skating technique, striding, etc. They played games as well but hardly came close to winning most of them. He told me that he could not care less about the score as long as the girls continued to improve their skating and were building a love for the game. This was great to hear! By the end of the season, with a great deal of encouragement, our daughter was a confident skater who loved to play. NB Cross-Ice for Mites! Cross ice games are the best way for young kids to get touches on the puck and learn to stick handle. Having mites and younger children start out on a full sheet of ice does not allow for these opportunities and can be overwhelming thereby hindering development. If a child is a mite or younger it would be a good idea to know the coaches feeling about the cross-ice concept.


It sounds trite but the coach’s attitude toward the kids is so important in developing skills and a love for the game. A youth hockey coach should foster a fun and encouraging atmosphere, again esp. for impressionable younger players. The games and practices can be taken seriously without having to seem like a grind with yelling, etc. It could be hard to determine the coach’s attitude during the first meeting so a bit of “research” talking to other families can go a long way toward finding out what you are getting yourself into. Another story “from the field”: My daughter was substituting for another girls team in the program. I watched the game and saw that they were playing boys who were obviously older. They were outmatched but I thought they hung in there and gave a great effort – there was no way they were going to win but I really thought they looked like they enjoyed themselves regardless. We found out that in the locker room after the game the head coach told them he was disappointed and that they didn’t play their hardest, etc. These were 8 year old girls!! Needless to say my daughter wanted no part of that team! Fortunately this is a rare example.

By Steve and Jessica Kennedy
Cambridge, Massachusetts

     Rare, but it does happen.  Let's make sure those kinds of experiences remain rare ones for our kids. Thanks to Steve and Jessica Kennedy!