This might come as a shock to some, but hockey is not the be-all, end-all to my life. We certainly don’t participate in hockey because it is the only sport we deem worthy. In fact, if I was given the choice, my kids would swim competitively. It’s warmer for those of us watching. No, our reasons for having the boys in hockey is more about the lessons they gain from a team sport. They could learn these life lessons elsewhere, sure. But they chose hockey.
So every weekend from the beginning of September to the end of March, we schedule our lives around hockey. We console ourselves with the knowledge that sooner or later the hockey years will be over and our weekends will be ours again. As much as I am enjoying the hockey community, I don’t know if I’ll be all that sad about closing that chapter.
Because it’s not about hockey for us. It’s about the life lessons that a team sport can teach you.
Life Lesson 1: Focus the Energy
There is a quote from Kenny Rogers that goes like this:
I don’t know about your kids, but mine can get into a lot of trouble when they are bored. There was one afternoon, I think Boy #1 was 4 or 5, which would make Boy #2 around 2 or 3. I didn’t hear a peep from them for about ten minutes and went down our hallway to find them, screwdriver in hand and a 6 inch by 6 inch hole in the hallway drywall, just because.
A sport gives them a place to focus that energy. And it saves my drywall. Win-win.
Life Lesson 2: Honour Your Commitments
I have never been under the illusion that my boys are going to play anything other than house league hockey. While that might give you the idea that it is not a priority in our house, I can assure you, this is not our reality. From the outside looking in, we take this hockey thing very seriously. We schedule our lives around ice times. We are at the rink all.the.time. When people ask me what I’ve been up to, inevitably my answer revolves around hockey. So it would be safe to assume that I’m pushing my boys into the sport.
Nope. It is strictly that we made a commitment to a team and we honour our commitments.
Life Lesson 3: Give Your Best Effort
One day, family legend will tell the tale of the day I lectured my oldest about laying down on the ice during practice. My exact words were this: “I don’t care what you do on the ice, but do not lay down. It physically pains me to watch you make snow angels when you are supposed to be playing hockey.” He played Novice level at the time. I do not hold Initiation players to the same standard. Similar to dandelion pickers on a soccer field, laying down on the ice is a hallmark of the Initiation years. Once you move to Novice your snow angel days are done, at least when you are playing hockey.
So, I will absolutely read them the riot act if they dog it on the ice. I know what they are capable of, so do not make me sit through a practice or a game to watch them give less than what they are capable of. Everyone gets a pass now and then. Off days happen. But the next practice or game better be at full effort or momma will say something. There is little that irritates me more than wasting time. And it is a waste of their time, their coaches time and my time if they meander through their ice time.
Because it’s not about hockey. It’s about showing up and putting in the effort they are capable of, every day.
It’s about raising my boys to be respectful, honourable adults. And sure, I could do that without them being in hockey. However, they chose to play the sport. They are given the option every year to play or to find something else. They make that decision and it’s my job to help them follow through on that. It’s my job to teach them how to focus their energy, to honour their commitments and to give their best effort.
As I said above, I have never had the illusion that any of my boys will go on to play hockey at higher levels. They aren’t that driven when it comes to the sport. And I’ll be the first to tell you that we don’t play at the competitive levels. Again, they just dont have the drive for it. Some kids do and kudos to the parents that support their kids in competitive level sports. The level of scheduling, planning and support you have to maintain astounds me. It’s just not for my kids and as a result, it’s not for me.
But this doesn’t mean that my time and effort is wasted. Sports, whether it’s hockey, soccer or dodgeball, will always teach you something.
For us, it’s not about hockey. It’s about the life lessons a team sport can teach you.
See you at the rink,