Last week I asked you what questions you would ask both Linda and Pearle, and I had a chance to chat with each of them and fired away! I’ll post their answers in two parts.
Questions and Answers with Linda Staal:
First, it was a true pleasure to talk with Linda Staal. For those of you who don’t know about the Staal family, they are some of Canadian hockey royalty. Linda and her husband Henry are sod farmers in Thunder Bay, and together they raised Eric, Marc, Jordan, and Jared, all of whom were signed to NHL contracts, and two (Eric and Jordan) have won Stanley cups.
Canadian Hockey Moms had great questions for Linda, and I’ve summarized her answers here!
Q1. The number one question I’ve had from Hockey Moms, is “You have four boys – how did you do it?”
Well, it was busy but we tried to stayed organized as much as possible. We had a hockey survival kit, with the boys’ comfy blankets and pillows, granola bars, snacks and fruit, and a kettle for hotel rooms. Breakfast every morning was the most important thing, we would always eat together, we would serve Quaker oatmeal, and get connected with the boys. Being organized in and out of the house made all the difference.
Q2. Did you depend on other hockey families to make it work?
No, it was mostly Henry and I that did the brunt of it. We would each take two and head in our separate directions. Henry would have time off in the winter, so that would help.
Q3. Living in Thunder Bay, I’m sure you had to travel. Some people, for example living in southern Ontario, don’t realize that. How far were you travelling a week?
Well when the boys were young we played out of Thunder Bay so there was not as much traveling. Once in AAA there were longer distances. We played in a league out of Winnipeg, so every second weekend it was an 8 hour drive. For tournaments in Toronto it would be a 16 hour drive. They started at 13 in AAA, by the end of AAA they were flying more. There were a few tournaments in town, but most were not. They had the Ontario Peewee championships in Thunder Bay, so that was good.
Q4. Did the Toronto teams ever drive 16 hours to you?
No, they didn’t. (laughs)
Q5. What were your boys’ favourite pre-game meals?
Well, now they have pasta and chicken before most games, but back in the day, we didn’t worry about it too much. When they were little they ate pretty much anything. I always tried to make a nutritious meal, but I wasn’t concerned about it.
Q6. How old did your boys leave home, and how did you manage that?
They left home when they were 15, and when Eric first left it was very challenging and I was upset about it. It was tough. But, he handled it well, and then his other brothers noticed that he did well and they wanted to follow in his footsteps. I think it was easier for them after watching Eric to go through it first, but they did well.
Q7. Did you find you had to push your boys into hockey, or did they pull you?
Well my husband played university hockey, and both of their grandfathers were avid fans, so it was maybe in their blood. Everyone around us played some kind of hockey so they just fell in love with it. We never really had to motivate them to play, they were already ready and waiting by the door. We never really had to push them.
Q8. If they had not made it in hockey, what would they be doing?
Oh, if the boys did not make it in hockey? I have no idea. I don’t know what they would be doing. Maybe they would be working on the sod farm, I’ve never had to really think about it, I don’t know what they would be doing.
Q9. What was your favourite memory from minor hockey?
My favourite memory I guess was meeting lots of different parents. It’s a neat thing coming to the rink and everyone is talking about the same things and doing the same things. I guess going through the process with the parents and and meeting so many good people.
Q10. Do you have any advice for hockey moms?
I would say have breakfast with your family just to try to stay connected. Try to keep things as simple as possible, and try to be a positive good role model for them. And enjoy it. Twenty years goes really fast, they are in the house then they are gone, so enjoy it while you can!
Thank you so much you Linda Staal for a) being a Hockey Mom Extraordinaire and b) taking the time to answer some of your Hockey Mom questions!