Dear Novice Hockey Coach,
Oh boy, where do I start with this one? You are the lucky coach that gets my mini-me. Boy #2 has challenged me from the minute he arrived in this world. In some respects, he is so much like me it’s scary. He is quiet and creative and will internalize every criticism. He makes his own rules and follows his own path.
Which might make novice hockey a little difficult for him and you, I would imagine.
He isn’t even sure he wants to play hockey. Confession: I didn’t really give him an option this year. I mean, if he asks, I tell him that he chose to play. But it was more that he didn’t expressly say that he didn’t want to. After three years in the Initiation program, I wanted him to try real hockey and then make up his mind about the sport. At this point, I don’t know which way I want him to go after this season.
Frankly, while he’s good at skating, he seems to have been born for the water. Kid swims like a fish. At the same time, he gets on the ice and grins from ear to ear. And I really didn’t want to make that decision just yet. He’s been working up to this for three years, so it only seemed fair that we have him try a season of Novice hockey. At least then I can feel like he has all the information he needs to make a decision about the sport.
While this may seem a little ridiculous, given he’s only 7, Boy #2 is my old soul. He knows what he wants. And he lets us know. He’s capable (and expects to be consulted) in making that decision when it comes down to it.
So this is a make or break season for him and hockey. No pressure or anything, right? I promise you there really is no pressure. If he loves hockey, great. If he needs to find his own sport, that’s ok too. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind sitting in the balmy temperatures of a pool deck to balance out all the arena sitting I do.
But it’s not about me.
Here’s a few things I know about this kid that might help you on the ice.
- He will fight us tooth and nail until his skates hit the ice. Then he will smile from ear to ear for the entire 50 minutes. This is not a new character trait. He does this with everything. He will drive me to the brink of insanity and doubt then turn around and smile at me and totally melt my heart. In terms of hockey, you will likely ask him to do something 5 times and he’ll do it. But in his own style until you want to rip your hair out. And then it will click and suddenly, it will be like there was never any other way. I don’t know to help you navigate this. I’ve found that trying to go with the flow seems to be my only hope of maintaining my sanity.
- He loves to learn and he loves magic. Any new skill, or trick or lesson will make him light up. It’s really all in the phrasing with him. If you put it to him as a magic trick or a lesson, he’ll be all over it. Also, if you can convince him that magic really exists, I would be forever grateful. He’s starting to doubt me.
- Of my three, he’s the one that needs the cheerleading the most. He needs the feedback and the approval. Fist bumps are his thing. They always make my oh-so-serious kid smile. Keep that in your back pocket. Bonus points if you can pull off the Trolls version.
- Kid has a sarcastic streak a mile wide. He just gets it. And he’s getting to a point where he can dish it out. I’m torn between wanting to give him a fist bump for skill and being forced to be the parent in this situation. If he’s comfortable with you, he will make a joke. That’s his currency. If he isn’t, he’ll be goofy but not sarcastic. There’s a fine but distinct difference to him.
- He hasn’t figured out where he belongs yet. Not in school and not on the ice. His brother was a defense player from the minute he set foot on the ice his Novice year. Boy #2 isn’t sure yet. I really believe if he finds his place on the ice, things will start to make more sense to him.
You have some big shoes to fill. Our previous two years with Boy #1’s Novice hockey was full of really great coaches and families. I’m sure you’ll do just fine. If you need anything, please just ask. We’re always at the rink, it’s just a matter of who has to cover which practice. It’s the nature of the beast with three in hockey.
While you aren’t our first Novice coach, you are his first hockey coach. And that’s a big deal.
Have fun, skate hard.
See you at the rink.