You teach your children some fashion sense
And they fashion some of their own
- Gordon Downie

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Game

For me, "The Game" is hockey. I have played and coached many different sports in my life, but ice hockey is my first love. I have written and thought carefully about the importance of hockey in my life. Some of my previous posts, notably The Game I Love and Riding the Coaching Rollercoaster have explored the role hockey plays in who I am and how I approach my life.

Recently, I came across this post on Facebook:

Hockey for 5 year olds is just that-for 5 year olds. It is about learning to be part of a team, building confidence, developing skills, and having fun. It isn't about trying out for the WHL or NHL. Feeling bad for a little boy that had his first hockey team experience in TinyMites crushed when his dad was told they had to let one kid go, and he was the weakest link. Also nice that the dad was informed with the child standing right there. I don't think that is what a first year hockey experience is about for FIVE YEAR OLDS! Maybe I'm wrong or a big sappy mother, but that seems like a sure fire way to hurt feelings and stomp on self esteem while turning a child off of team sport activities. Glad it wasn't my little boy:(

When I hear things like this, it makes me sad and incredibly pissed off. Stories like this taint the reputation of minor hockey. The comments that followed this post had two themes. The first theme was "There is no way this should happen in minor hockey." The second theme was "That is exactly why minor hockey is flawed."

I have a difficult time understanding how people can be so incredibly stupid about hockey. How can one child be let go from a 5 year old hockey team? I can imagine the counter arguments - ice time, number of jerseys, minor hockey guidelines, but none of them should get in the way of the dreams of a little boy.

At this age level, kids develop at very different rates. Any adult who "cuts" a 5 year old should have NOTHING to do with the development of young hockey players. At this age, making cuts and exclusions reflects a desire for team success ahead of individual development. Anyone who coaches young athletes with an eye for team success ahead of individual progress needs a serious reality check.

I can say with absolute certainty that Hockey Canada, Hockey Alberta, and anyone with a shred of common sense and decency would consider this situation an abomination. Anyone who coaches young hockey players should do everything they can to make kids love the game. Period.

I would love to have a conversation with any coach who "cut" a five year old child. Even better, I would love to go one on one with him on the rink and see what a hero he really is.


  1. Couldn't agree more with your point. It's sad that people like this get to coach.
    Thinking a little wider...I think this happens not only in sports... music, drama and maybe others. It's not just a sports or hockey thing.

  2. "Anyone who coaches young hockey players should do everything they can to make kids love the game. Period." I would replace 'young hockey players' with young people, no matter the game.
    Ted, this is not particular to hockey... most coaches don't know (or care to) anything about long term athlete development. We see it lots in LAX too, and my daughter deals with it in dance. The issue to me is all about players centered coaching (the right way) vs. coach centered coaching (the wrong way.) It's that simple. However, as you know, good people away from minor athletics can turn into totally different people for that 60 minutes behind the bench.
    I don't know how to fix it.

  3. Sounds like more of a problem with the local minor hockey association than just the coach. Somewhere along the line it was decided that there are only so many players per team in TinyMites. Now that's just plain wrong.
    A majority of these "coaches" are volunteer parents who only step up for the enjoyment of the kids. This coach was placed in a poor situation by his hockey assoc. and wasn't given the tools/training to handle it properly.