From the Desk of Allyson Tufts: To Play or Not to Play

From the Desk of Allyson Tufts: To Play or Not to Play

There has been so much talk regarding this debate about summer activities, To Play or Not to Play?  I’m sure many parents stress about their decision to put their kids into extra soccer clinics, football camps, or dance camps over the summer.  There has been so much debate on this topic because many feel athletes will burn out if they’re overscheduled in their respective sports or extra curricular activities. 

I feel for parents having to make the decision as to whether they should sign their children up for summer sports or not. As the parent of a young goalie who played for over ten years, I must admit we did it.  I completely understand the dilemma of not wanting your young player to be a step behind those he or she is competing with.  There is that looming tryout date that’s just around the corner.  Is there value in letting your son or daughter take two months off to play other sports so that they jump back on the ice or field hungry for the game? I think that’s up to your young player, they’ll let you know if they want to play or not.  In our case our son couldn’t get enough of hockey which made the decision easier for us.

I can honestly say I don’t regret the trips to Toronto for hockey in the spring, the Chowder Cup in July, or that long trip to Philadelphia when the air conditioning in the car broke half way there.  One of my fondest memories was at Nantasket Beach in the middle of the summer, many miles from our hometown in Canada. I remember there was a restaurant with a patio across from the beach and the boys all wanted to eat after their victory.  We dropped them off and told them to meet us at the beach for a swim after their lunch. It wasn’t long until we could hear them laughing. It was a moment I knew I wanted to capture so I turned to take a picture of them.  There they sat together, with their hockey hair blowing in the breeze, as the smell of sweaty hockey equipment still lingered in the air. As I watched them eating burgers, laughing and telling stories I couldn’t help but think these boys weren’t missing out on their summer fun, they had simply added hockey to it. Unfortunately, we got beat out of that tournament and knew we had to head home. We decided as a group to stay an extra night at the hotel because it was such a long drive back.  The team all drowned their sorrows by jumping in the pool to play a game of skunk with a football somebody had packed in their hockey bag. They had the time of their lives and so did the parents sharing the patio, a few drinks, and a lot of laughs. 

When I think back on those moments I have no regrets that we decided to be in the rink for those summer months. I guess my point is this, if you decide to play summer hockey don’t take the summer out of it.  If you’re a camper, bring your trailer.  If you’re a staying at a hotel find a beach close by.  If you can skip the hotel and rent a cottage all the better.  Roasted marshmallows over a campfire taste just as good after a hockey game, even better if it’s after a win.

Let your player decide, you’ll be able to tell if they’re ready for a break.  If they don’t want to play then don’t sign them up; that’s when you take their summer away.  Can you imagine doing something you were sick of in the middle of summer while everyone else is having fun? Whatever your kids decide to do, be it football, soccer, dance, baseball, or hockey just make sure their having fun and most importantly don’t take “summer” out of it.

- Written by Allyson Tufts

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