I'm well into the fourth year of kids in minor hockey and my whole attitude towards hockey has changed so much since the first year. My kids play hockey in a recreational league, that is, there are teams, real hockey rules, games, playoffs etc. but there is no physical checking and no one playing in this division is going to be an NHL, WHL or probably not a BCHL player.
In Pr. George, there is several different divisions of hockey:
Highest up is rep hockey. These are the serious guys with serious parents. Some of the parents think their kids are destined for the NHL (and no doubt some of the kids think so too).
Next down is Club Hockey. These kids check.
Next down is House 1 hockey and for Peewees (grade 6 and 7) and Atoms (grade 4 and 5) there is also a House 2 division. This is recreational hockey and there is no checking. Unfortunately, there are some parents here that think their kid is going to be playing in the NHL when they grow up.
No! Not gonna happen!
|Matty showing her stuff trying to catch up to Peter|
When our kids started Minor League hockey those long four years ago, they had played "Just for fun" hockey at the Y for two years. They had a lot of fun, but the basic hockey rules like offside weren't followed. The girls were doing okay in their group and I signed them up for hockey requesting that they were put on a mixed team, not an all female team. This year, year 4 of minor hockey, all three girls are playing on all girl teams. Why the change of heart? Boys don't usually consider girls to be any good at hockey AND unfortunately, a lot of coaches believe the same thing, although they never admit it. So the girls didn't feel wanted and in some cases got very little game play. It's a very difficult thing to coach a mixed team, you want your team to do well and in all teams, especially in the house 2 division, there are some kids that are not doing as well as the rest. But the policy of the PGMHA is fair play and equal play for all - no matter what!!
Year 1, Matty and Petra were in a mixed team in PeeWees (well 3 girls on their team). They had good coaches and got a lot of play. The next year, the team coached itself, their coaches weren't too good and the girls still got a fair amount of play. Then they moved up to Bantam. Everything changed. The boys felt that the girls were just not worth passing too. The girls often just batted the puck down the ice, missed the pass or passed to the other team. So, rather than pass to the girls, they just carried the puck down the ice themselves. The girls didn't get to play and didn't get any better. In an all girls team, the girls do get equal game time. They are all very happy to pass to each other and work together. All good! Unfortunately, the all girls team has created a new problem. These all girls teams do not do very well against the mixed teams. For the bantam girls for the second half of this year they have dropped them down to the PeeWees to give them a better chance. Its a difficult thing. The ideal situation, I believe would be to create an all girls division. I can't believe I think this way, I used to always think that it was unnecessary to separate the girls from the boys for hockey. Now, I cringe when I think of them playing in mixed teams.
|John and Peter|
Sitting in the stands:
There is truly nothing like sitting in the stands watching your kid play any sport. But hockey is special. If you just watch what the kids are doing on the ice, it's beautiful. Graceful arcs on the corners, powerful full out skating down the ice, stick handling on a breakaway - somehow playing a sport while skating just makes it that much more amazing. Hockey is like a giant game of keep away, with the two teams battling for control the whole time. I really can't skate. I use the boards to stop. I took a hockey stick at one of our family skates and tried to stick handle and shoot the puck. The whole skill set was so incredibly beyond my capabilities, my respect for my kids went way up. First the kids have to conquer skating, then they have to develop all the puck handling skills, shooting skills, and learn the rules. Not easy!
I have watched many, many games of kid hockey. I have developed the necessary skill of being able to separate the game from the kids playing. I can watch the game and focus on how my child is doing and just let the score become irrelevant. This hasn't been easy to develop, but after numerous games where my kids team has been annihilated by scores like 23-2 or 17-0, it has been necessary. Matty and Petra's first game in the minor league was one of those games. A rookie goalie with little skill, lots of players new to hockey resulted in a score of 27-3. Not an easy game to watch. I felt that the second the girls were off the ice they would want to quit. I hoped they didn't cry. I watched as they exited the ice after the game. Worried. The grin on Matty's face was amazing! She was so exhilarated by the thrill of playing a REAL hockey game and having a team, she could care less about the score. That sure taught me a thing or two about kids, teams and hockey. Not that kids like to lose all the time. Its hard on them. Some of the kids have had bad luck with their teams and had very little victories in a season. But no matter the outcome, they love to play!!!
So you are sitting in the stands. There are usually a mob of parents around you. Your kid's team scores, you scream YAY!!! way to go!! It's exciting!!! You are often proud of your kid, especially when someone yells! Good work Peter! and you think WOW! they know who my kid is and are cheering for his effort. It's a really cool thing! At that point, I realise just how incredibly selfish I am because I don't know 80% of the kids on my teams names, especially not when they have their helmets and jerseys on. I don't really cheer for anyone except my kids! I appreciate that these parents take a greater role in their kids hockey than I do, it just doesn't bother me.
|Maggie - is hockey in her future?|
Of course you would be amazed by the behaviour of the parents in the stands. I thoroughly approve of parents that yell encouragement to their kid, or tell them what to do, or yell YOU'RE OFFSIDE, or yell that they should try harder. They have a comment regarding their child, no problem, it's their kid. But a parent should NEVER criticize anyone else's kids. NEVER! I do derive a great deal of pleasure listening to what they yell. A couple years back, there was a pretty, young mom with a hockey player son, Hayden. Any where within 20 feet of her was too close. She didn't look like it, but she could YELL! and all she yelled was HAYDEN!!! at about 80dB. Doesn't matter if she was yelling encouragement, complaining or whatever, about 20 times a period, HAYDEN!!! was yelled at. Then there are the parents with the noisemakers. We are talking air horns, cow bells and all other sorts of noisemakers, some left over from the previous nights Cougar game. Okay, I am totally cool with getting excited when you child scores a goal, or your child's team scores. But honestly, if the score is 19-3 and you are still standing up, ringing your bell and yelling for every single goal that your winning team scores, maybe you should rethink things...
Admittedly, it's a pain in the butt driving kids to hockey practices and games, and with several kids in hockey - it can seem endless! But nothing has changed since that first game of Matty and Petra's in the PGMHA. They all love playing hockey. They love being on a team, putting their gear on, skating, playing games! And no matter whether they lost a game or won it, got annihilated or crushed their opponent, they play hard and have fun. And I guess that's what it's all about.