For Mom and Dad: Hockey and the Holidays

I will never forget playing hockey over the holidays.  It was a family tradition.  From the frozen flooded farmers field behind our home to our neighbor’s frozen lagoon enclosed by railway ties, the holidays and hockey were always part of our childhood. 

From the early morning practices to the continuous skate sharpening’s from our outdoor adventures, to the constant travel, our parents never hesitated. At the time you always take it for granted the amount of financial and moral support that our parents gave us.  The endless hours of driving through snow storms and playing in seemingly every rink across the Maritimes was never lost on us and has certainly left a lasting impression on my life.   

Nevertheless, during my final years as a coach, I was very quick to give my teams a much-needed break from hockey during the holiday season. Why had my perspective changed on hockey during the holidays? Unfortunately hockey often overshadows the impact that the holiday season has on families.   

There was never a shortage of gifts under our tree, and my brother and I always had an appreciation for how hard our parents worked to sustain our hockey careers and countless other interests.  However, for most families in this day and age, hockey is an all-encompassing endeavor due in large part to the outlandish costs associated with the game.

Hockey has become a year round undertaking and in many ways is an unstoppable force. Hockey parents these days try to give their children every opportunity to succeed. The game has changed. 

From the off ice training sessions, to the skills coach, to the new team track suits, to the over priced composite sticks, to the hotel stays, hockey has become unaffordable for so many.  The game of hockey never stops, there’s no off-season, and unfortunately many people have bought into that trend.  The game was a family tradition in our household, one that we never took for granted. I will be forever grateful for my parent’s sacrifice.

Looking back on it now, I have no idea how they did it! During my final years as a coach, I always told my teams that tournaments were important, but they give you an opportunity to play for your parents.

 Every time I stepped on the ice as a kid I wanted to impress my parents and work hard to show them that their sacrifice especially over the holidays wasn’t for nothing.  As coaches we should always take the time to ensure our players understand the sacrifices their parents make to provide them with the opportunity to play the game.  Passion runs deep with everyone involved in the game of hockey, there’s no denying that.  But do players these days really understand and appreciate the sacrifice their parents make or do they think they are entitled to it?

Nevertheless, much like the holiday season, the game of hockey has a great way of teaching valuable life lessons, only if we take the time to stop and appreciate them. 

Thank you Mom and Dad,

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