By Brandon Naurato –
It’s 45 degrees and sunny in February and we are closing in on the best time of the year. League playoffs and district championships are underway all over the country and all I can think in my head is what a great day it is for hockey. I open up the doors to the main entrance of the rink and it hits me all at once. The tunes from the scorekeeper’s box cranked up all the way, while the smell of coffee and stinky hockey gear confirms that I am in the right place, and I couldn’t be happier.
As I look around the rink, I begin to realize that the rest of the spectators attending the game do not share this same sensation. To my left, I see a few parents pacing through the lobby, while others sit by themselves in the corner with their clipboard and stopwatch in hand. To my right, a small cluster of straight-faced parents in deep conversation about the game flood the rink as they anxiously await the drop of the puck. Then I start laughing because all I keep thinking about is the infamous Heath Ledger line as The Joker in “The Dark Knight.”
I know why you are so serious. It is because you are angry. Angry that your kid is not on the first line, that the coach isn’t doing what he promised in your eyes or that little Johnny is having more success than your son. And all I want you to know that we all see it. Everyone sees it!
I get it. You spend extra time and money on private training throughout the season and individual attention in the summer so you are entitled to the best experience possible – with no threat of adversity during the season. If things aren’t going your kid’s way then it must be someone else’s fault, correct? I told you in the past that if you are looking for a return on your investment in hockey then you are wasting your time. If your kid is playing hockey to have fun and meet new friends, then enjoy the process. If your kid has passion for the game, has an elite mindset and work ethic and his goal is to play at the highest level possible, then you still need to smile and enjoy the process.
So let me ask you a question: Is your method working? Are you helping your son or daughter earn extra ice time by bad mouthing the coach or other players on the team?
I just read an unbelievable article by Pat Fitzgerald (head coach of Northwestern’s football program) titled “Evaluating Parents has Become a Big Part of the Process.” Coach Pat discusses how Division I coaches are evaluating parents more than ever while identifying recruits. The message here is that you can only hurt your son or daughter when it comes to playing at the next level. Your impact on them as people is geared towards helping them off the ice, not on it.
A smart man shared this quote with me recently: “There are two types of people in this world: people that give you energy and others that take it away.”
Imagine a world – or let alone a hockey rink – where whenever you walk in the door, everyone is smiling and positive. Each person attending the game has their own purpose for being there, whether it be to watch the game as a fan, support a friend or spend time with family. So let’s do it! Thank the coach for volunteering his time to mentor and develop your son or daughter. Get to know the other parents on the team and begin to build healthy relationships that could potentially last a lifetime. Encourage your child to be positive and understand that he or she is the captain of his or her own ship. Any success that he or she has is in direct relation to them having the right attitude and earning it. Bottom line is that we all need to enjoy the moment, change our attitudes and sit back and ask ourselves… “Why so serious?”