We all know what a long and drawn out ordeal the winter hockey season can be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but it can be long. So, it’s no surprise to me that many people react to spring hockey with trepidation, many expressing outright bewilderment that I would want my child (children) to play hockey once the snow has melted and the bugs have started. Who wants to be in a cold arena any longer than they have to?
Well, turns out a lot of people (Hockey Moms, families, and of course, players) choose to participate in Spring Hockey, mainly through weekend long tournaments and occasional weekday games.
Last year I was very cautious about my first Spring hockey experience with my oldest son. In previous posts, I’ve alluded to the potential of young players playing too much. Last year, that was my fear with my son…were we pushing him too hard, was he going to “burn out”, had we become “those fanatic hockey parents?”
For the second year in a row, my son is playing Spring/Summer hockey on a team with players born in his same birth year. These players have been selected from various teams around the region (up to an hour away). They have practiced twice, and will do three weekend tournaments. Yes, these tournaments are away from home, meaning that I have to pack up my other two children (and their father) and drive over two hours on a Friday. Yes, these tournaments are expensive since we have to stay overnight (2 nights!) in a hotel. Yes, we may possibly have become the fanatic hockey parents.
But, to me, the costs are worth the benefits. I’ve decided that I really love this spring hockey experience, and here are a few reasons why.
1) My son, a normally shy boy, has met new friends. These friends have a common interest, and I have watched with delight as he has broken out of his shell over a silly game of mini sticks in the hotel hallway (before getting kicked out by security, of course). This year, my son is even more comfortable with the players than he was last year. He looks forward to hanging out with them, and his little brother gets a kick out of these new friends, too.
2) My family is “forced” to spend an entire weekend together, in one vehicle. All too often my husband and I “divide and conquer” meaning that on most weekends we are heading in separate directions, maybe giving each other a high-five as we pass each other on our way to our separate destinations on the opposite sides of town. On these spring hockey weekends we spend a lot of time together as a family. With maximum two games per day, and usually nice weather, we have a chance to do some things together as a family that we would not normally schedule in. We look at these weekends as vacation, with a little bit of hockey thrown in.
3) The parents are great, and there is always a curfew. Since we are there for a hockey tournament, you can always justify getting the kids to bed at a reasonable hour. There is something refreshing about getting together with the parents in the hotel hallway (again, until kicked out by security), enjoying a beverage, and talking all things, hockey and other. I guess the kids on my son’s team are nice because they have nice parents.
4) I get to see talent from all over the place! As a true hockey fan, I enjoy watching talented kids play hockey. It amazes me what kids can do. These tournaments offer an opportunity to watch some of the “up and comers” shine.
5) It is amazing to watch the kids form into a team in such a short time, and it justifies to me why I love my kids being in hockey. Though my son hadn’t seen many of the players since last year, it took about two minutes to re-enter that team mentality. I love watching anyone working as a team…i get a real kick out of it when it is a bunch of kids. We all know hockey teaches teamwork and cooperation, well, when you are playing with a bunch of kids you don’t know well, or haven’t played with for a while, you have to gel fast. I love watching it happen.
So, as I unpack my last piece of luggage from the Little Senators Spring Hockey Tournament in Ottawa, I am grateful that I got to watch my son’s team play some great games, and that my family had such a wonderful weekend. And until next time, Go Quinte Spitfires!
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