Melissa Walsh

Hockey Mom Speak: How It Evolves

Powerplay Communications | April 2011 | Hockey Mom Sense blog: "Hockey Mom Speak: How It Evolves"

Look around the rink and conduct a little study. Exhibit A: the rookie hockey mom. Exhibit B: the veteran hockey mom. How are they different?

I expect you won’t detect differences in how rookie and veteran hockey moms dress, walk, sit, check their smartphones, or hold their coffee mugs. Rather, you’ll spot the delta between rookie and veteran by what comes out of the mouths of hockey moms.

From the time a mom enters her rookie season of youth hockey parenting through the finale of watching teens playing midget or junior hockey, the voice of the hockey mom evolves. I’ve discovered that as a mom’s hockey knowledge grows, so do her screams become cheers, her expressions of worry become expressions of hope, her rants become prayers, and her angst becomes faith in the power behind this great game.

So what are the differences between the voice of the rookie hockey mom and the voice of the veteran hockey mom? Below are some differences I’ve noticed.

First of all, the rookie hockey mom is confused by the ref signals (unless she plays hockey). She can’t distinguish the tripping call from the slashing call, nor the crosscheck call from the interference call. And she thinks that every time a kid crashes or falls, a ref’s arm should go up.  Conversely, veteran hockey moms become pretty good officiating analysts of this fast game. They can also see the systems forming, the guy who’s open, how the lines are gelling, and the goal that is about to happen. For instance, if you want to know exactly what went wrong on the backcheck, ask the veteran goalie mom. She’ll break it down for you. Rookie hockey moms don’t have this vision (unless they play hockey).

Here are some comparisons of what a rookie hockey mom might say with what a veteran hockey mom might say in similar situations. As her kid begins moving the puck out of his team’s zone, the rookie mom screams, “SKAAAAAAATE!!!!!!” The veteran hockey mom, quietly mutters, “Okay now, set it up.”

When her kid’s team is hit with more penalties than the opposing team, the rookie hockey mom comments, “These refs suck.” The veteran hockey mom says, “That’s okay, the hockey gods are fair. It’ll even out in the long run.”

When there’s bodychecking, the rookie hockey mom cringes and says, “Ooh, I hate this checking.” Yet the veteran hockey mom acknowledges clean hits with, “Nice hit.” She might even raise her voice from the bleachers to advise, “Hit somebody!”

Watching NHL hockey, the rookie hockey mom says, “I don’t get the fighting.” The veteran hockey mom says, “There’s a code.” After a tough loss, the rookie hockey mom says, “I feel sorry for the goalie.” The veteran hockey mom thinks, “I respect the goalie.”

Watching HNIC, the rookie hockey mom says, “Don Cherry is nuts.” The veteran hockey mom says, “Don Cherry is prophetic. Nice suit.”

Toward the end of the season, the rookie hockey mom says, “I’m so sick of being at the rink.” The veteran hockey mom says, “Let’s tailgate.”

Planning the family spring break trip, the rookie hockey mom thinks, “Finally, we’re going to have a week with no hockey.” The veteran hockey mom suggests to the family, “Hey, on our way to Orlando, why don’t we stop off in Nashville to catch a Preds game?”

Certainly, what a hockey mom knows and says radically evolves during that wild and bumpy journey that is youth hockey.

So, you hockey parents out there, please share what you’ve noticed (tweet @powerplaywriter). What has evolved for you in the way you think and speak about youth hockey?