As a hockey parent I’ve had many moments in the arena that have excited me, made me angry, made me laugh, but worst of all have made me ashamed of my behaviour. It’s only with perspective that I can honestly say there were times that the way I handled situations were just wrong. I can also say that at this point in the season I was usually at my worst. By now alliances have been made and broken, things may have been said, actions in the rink may be hard to forget and the joy and excitement you felt in September isn’t quite the same in February.
I remember the time my son was invited to do a skate with some specialized coaching. I was so excited he was invited and it was nice to be spending time in the arena with a different group for a change. I had felt there had been a lot of politics in the season and quite honestly, I was tired of them. One of the parents in particular had really ticked me off. I didn’t like the way he had handled a few situations. I would find myself so frustrated with his actions that I‘d leave the rink with a headache. In hindsight, I would have enjoyed the experience much more if I’d paid less attention to him and focused much more on my son having the time of his life on the ice.
As my son and I headed to the rink I remember looking forward to watching him play with no drama in the stands. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the rink long when I spotted my nemesis from our team. Are you kidding me? His son got the invite too? THIS MAN IS EVERYWHERE? We nodded at each other and it occurred to me that he might feel the same way about me. Was I giving off the same feeling that I was getting from him? What if he hadn’t done anything wrong and this was just two insecure people wanting the best for our kids, was that possible?
The skate came to an end and I was anxious to get out of the rink. Our two boys both played really well and took their time getting off the ice. I watched them skate towards each other wondering what they’d say. I wondered if there would be snide comments between them after a year of so much competition. To my surprise they smiled at each other, put their heads together holding each others helmets, and started laughing. They skated off the ice together tapping each other with their sticks, both smiling completely happy to see each other.
As my son and I were walking out of the rink I asked him what he and this man’s son were talking about. He told me that with the season coming to an end they were both saying that they hoped they’d get to play together again next year. He then said something I’ll never forget, “It’s kind of sad, you play with these guys for so long and then there comes a time when you might not get to skate with them again. We both just wanted to wish each other good luck! I’m really going to miss him.”
I almost started crying! I had looked at this father and his son as the enemy. I felt I was competing as much as my son was and I had lost sleep over it. Meanwhile the whole time these two were teammates competing against each other for ice time but playing for the same team in solidarity. What was I doing? I had completely lost sight of what the game was all about. As we headed to the parking lot I saw this man helping his son get his stuff into the car. For the first time in a long time, I looked at him and smiled and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t leave the rink with a headache. In that moment my son taught me how to be a teammate.
So as your season comes to a close, remember this, the issues you have with the people beside you may not be the same for your players. Don’t assume that the kids that are competing against each other for ice time aren’t friends. After all they have a true understanding of what the other is going through. If you really think about it, as parents, we all want what’s best for our kids. Perhaps we should be like our young players and have more compassion and camaraderie for the other parents beside us who are feeling the exact same thing we are. Let them be the example, follow their lead and let them teach you how to be a good teammate.
- Written by Allyson Tufts