Melissa Walsh

The Hockey Club

Powerplay Communications | February 2011 | The Hockey Club

Hockey is a club that holds its members tightly, the bond forged by shared hardship and mutual passion, by every trip to the pond, where your feet hurt and your face is cold and you might get a stick in the ribs or a puck in the mouth, and you still can’t wait to get back out there because you are smitten with the sound of blades scraping against ice and pucks clacking off sticks, and with the game’s speed and ever- changing geometry. It has a way of becoming the center of your life even when you’re not on the ice. --Wayne Coffey, The Boys of Winter

Hockey parents know that hockey is more than a sport; it’s a lifestyle. Add the thrill of playing hockey to the experience of hockey-parenting, and hockey will become a family passion.

The Rink Congregation The hockey community is tight-knit. It’s fitting that we hockey families spend so many Sunday mornings together, because we function much like a church congregation, or often like a large dysfunctional family at Sunday brunch. Like a family or community of believers, hockey families are emotionally invested, not just in this sport, but in each other. Whether fond of one other or at odds with one other, one thing is certain, hockey families are not indifferent to one other. The hockey community takes care of hockey families experiencing crisis. And collectively, hockey parents look after the precious rink rats tooling through the rink lobby in their heelys. They hold babies for fellow parents getting little skaters geared up for practice. They take turns buying all the kids slushies.

Parents who had played hockey together as kids growing up partner in guiding today’s youth hockey players. Yet in their overzealousness to support their own kid’s development, they sometimes clash with one another, then, as families do, they make up, forgive and move on ! it’s for the good of the kids. After all, they will be spending many more weekends together and traveling numerous more miles together. Because there are no “snow days” for hockey families, they have already survived blizzards together, convoying their SUVs closely behind one another through blinding, blowing snow.

The Hockey-Playing Hockey Parent I’ve been a hockey mom for about ten years now and have enjoyed the community of hockey more than any other community of friends in my life. But it wasn’t until I started playing the game myself eight years into my hockey parenting journey that I really became a good hockey mom. To know first-hand what it takes to dangle a puck, to feed a pass, to catch a pass, to score a goal, to feel the intensity of the game, to enjoy the camaraderie of the room ! that has enhanced my ability immeasurably to parent my players well.

America’s Hockey Club So in honor of today’s 31st anniversary of the Miracle Game and the recent Hockey Day Across America celebration, I’ve come up with a little acrostic:

H is for the humility of hockey’s greatest players. O is for the obsession to play this addictive game. C is for the character that hockey builds in the player. K is for hockey keepsakes, like tourney trophies and game pucks. E is for the empowerment hockey players sense on the ice. Y is for the youthfulness players of all ages feel during a game.

The hockey club is a memory-maker for my family. It is my family’s social life, my support network, and the gateway to my boys’ dreams. Hockey creates a rite of passage for my sons and a language I can use to communicate with them. Because hockey allows no shortcuts to glory, pursuing hockey greatness instills the values of perseverance, discipline, and humility.

So to all the volunteer coaches, league administrators and rink managers out there, thank you for helping this great sport thrive. My family is blessed to be part of this congregation of believers, also known as Greater Detroit’s outstanding hockey community.