Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Youth Hockey Comes to a Close

This weekend marked the end of N's youth hockey career, and I think it's been a good run for him, culminating in some changes that will be good for all of us in the years to come. I thought I would have mixed emotions about the end of hockey, but I have to confess, I feel good about it all. Not too much in the way of poignant nostalgia, partly because of hockey season fatigue, but also because I think N is in a good place in his life, and while hockey is a part of it, he's got a lot of other good things going on. For that, I'm grateful.

Hockey has always been a bit of a mixed bag for us. On the one hand it's a great sport and I'm glad that N enjoys it, and I think he's a pretty good player, but there is so much drama and political BS involved that it sometimes ruins the enjoyment. This is especially true when you've been involved with the same system for many years like I was in our old lame program, you really become incorporated into the complex and undesirable machinations of youth hockey culture. After all the BS we experienced and the dust had settled, we found ourselves in a new program and it worked out beautifully. All of us had our reservations about making the change, but it was all for the best.

Not only were we able to get a fresh perspective on things, but I was able to disconnect from the youth hockey machine that gave me so much anxiety, i.e., I didn't have to coach anymore. He got some great instruction from a great coach who, for once in his life, was not a father to one of the teammates (which really screws things up). The players were all good kids, the parents were (for the most part) down to earth, and most importantly, we got an objective idea of N's abilities. I've always thought N was a reasonably good player, but was always met with the proverbial cynicism that I'm not objective because I'm his dad. For the record, this is not true. In coming to the new program, which is not a soft, fuzzy place (this is a good thing), we experienced fairly objective analysis of N's hockey skills, because they don't beat around the bush. They're not going to sugar coat your kids abilities, or lack thereof. If your kid sucks, they're pretty much going to let you know this. Not only were the tryouts straightforward and cut and dry (unlike the ones at WYH, which for the record were complete horseshit), but his coach had no vested interested in playing up N's skills. Plus, he is a real hockey dude from Canada who was one step away from the NHL. With all this in mind, I think it confirmed what I've felt all along. Enough said.

Most importantly, N's shift to the big city will set him up for the years ahead, because he'll go to school with these guys and probably interact with them, at least on some level, in the days to come. And, now that the season has ended, it's time for N to turn his attention to other interests, reminding us that, yes, there is more to life than hockey. It's hard to remember this when you're enmeshed in youth hockey because the season is so long and requires so much dedication. I really can't think of another sport that asks so much of you, though I know they're out there.

While lacrosse will start to take up a big place in our lives, I'm glad N is interested in doing more MTB riding, and once the weather warms up, I'm thinking (can't say for sure) that he'll still be keen on hitting the waves. Plus, he's got his drone racing stuff that he loves.

I'm not one to believe that all's well that ends well. When bad things happen, even if the results are good, I still can't let go of the bad things that happened. However, I am grateful that things turned out as well as they did. If anything, I should just let go of the past and move forward into the future, but as anyone who knows me can attest to, that ain't going to happen.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Brian for the pic.

No comments: