Tuesday, October 4, 2016

What? No Hockey Bag?

When we delivered our son to Bentley University in Boston, stuffing every inch of our SUV with all the dorm room essentials, to the shock and disbelief of some friends and relatives, there was no hockey bag. What? He’s not playing hockey in college?

   That kind of reaction doesn’t surprise Plymouth, Michigan hockey mom Laurie Golden, author of The Trophy Mom blog, who points out that only two percent of athletes receive college scholarships. She’s seen parents make the mistake of concentrating all efforts on one sport, with extra coaching thinking, it will pay off with a scholarship, “We know kids that have played juniors hoping for a college opportunity and then enter college at age 20 or 22 with no scholarship, while their friends have finished college. My husband and I joke that if people took all the money they spent on camps, special training and extra coaching and invested it, they’d have no problem paying for college,” says Golden.
My son Joe loved playing defense. One of his most memorable games was in Lake Placid 

     While playing for a college was never on our son’s radar, or ours, early on in his life it was clear that hockey was his passion. His and not ours. 

 Kellie Merrill from Wasilla, Alaska saw that same kind of natural passion in her daughter, who played on a co-ed Tier 2 team. “She loves hockey 24/7 as much as my husband and I do.” But her son?  Not so much. The lack of enthusiasm led to a heart to heart before his Bantam year, which resulted in a switch from the rink to the pool.  He now loves swimming, “ As a parent I am passionate about watching my children enjoy what they are doing instead of seeing a lack luster performance because they think that is what I expect them to be doing.” says Merrill.

    Parents need to set realistic expectations too, reminds Wasilla Warriors High School Head Coach William Sturdevant who points out parents sometimes forget that the game is about the kids on the ice and not the parents in the stands, “It’s unfortunate when parents, for example, focus on how their player could have scored five goals instead of being proud of the three that were scored. Ultimately this leads to the player watching the “coach” in the stands and not the coach on the bench and their teammates.”

    “It’s really easy to lose your perspective,” says Golden whose eldest played baseball for Eastern Michigan University, another played ACHA hockey for Oakland University and her daughter played for the 19U Michigan Icebreakers. “You have to make a conscious decision to stay focused on what’s best for your child and your family. Now that my kids are older, each of them has thanked us for being sane, level-headed sports parents. The kids really are watching.”

    Hockey was a great run for our son who gained confidence, friends, and leadership skills. He had a blast and so did we, all the while, keeping it “in check.”

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