The Loneliest Place on Earth

So it starts on Monday – the time of the year that I dread the most – Peewee A tryouts for my goalie. He seems fine, excited even, he’s been working hard all season to get back to where he ultimately wants to play. He’s committed to extra training, different opportunities and I think that he’s fairly confident in his skills.

Me – not so relaxed. If you aren’t a parent who has had to go through something like this let me lay it out for you. You walk into a place where you spend almost eight months out of the year and suddenly it’s drastically different. The air is electric with a tense cloud of stress. A good massage therapist would see a sea of dollar bills in the tight shoulders, grinding teeth and fiercely crossed arms. Those who you have known and played with for one season after another walk by head down and you become a faceless opponent to what they want for their child.


Then there is the “chatter”. I fully admit that I have certainly gotten myself caught up in this a few times, I’m trying to learn to ignore it but of course when what your child wants in their deepest heart is on the line, there are times when you can’t help but engage and pass along a thought or two.

‘So-and-so heard that the new coach has already decided on five kids’ – before tryouts even start. ‘I heard that xxxx is going to tryout for a team in xxxx.” “Did you see the way xxx skates, what is he even doing on the ice!”

It is not the only time as adults that we forgot these are all kids who want the same thing, or just that they are kids in general. The hardest part for me is that these are also kids who we have played with before, who are friends in the off-season, who are teammates on the ice, who have cheered my kid on before and I truly want to be able to cheer for them as well, but cheering for one over another sets you up for more disaster. The problem is hiding out in the bathroom is not acceptable.


Having only been in this setting – the competitive side – for four seasons I feel like still haven’t figured out how to put everything into perspective. I’m getting there I hope. The thing is that I’m raising a goalie which means by ratio more kids and less spots. The one thing that it does provide me with a layer of protection as others don’t see my kid as competition for their player’s spot on the team. If I can find something thankful in this whole thing that would be it.

I find myself already looking at the first three ice times, figuring out the rink they are in. Then comes planning my hopefully quiet hiding place where my goalie can see me so I can give him some smiles of encouragement, but is relatively obscured to everyone else. Rink 1 is easy, big and lots of seating, usually I can go to the far side in the corner. Rink 2 also easy, I can watch from the upstairs area and watch in relative peace. Rink 3 and 4 – no hopes.  In my head there is already a list of people I will need to avoid at all costs if I’m going to be able to stay calm and keep this in perspective but those are usually people I would actually avoid in my day-to-day life anyways, and they might actually feel the same about me. But even as I type this all out I can feel the knot in my stomach growing at the thought of the entire thing.


What I hope is that this kid doesn’t feel half of the anxiety that I do about these things. That his head is clear and the only voices he hears are those of the coaches and trainers on the ice deciding who they see potential in. If I were to channel my inner Oprah I would say ‘the one thing I know for sure is that I can’t increase my child’s true potential to be great at hockey or anything else. I can only nurture it or ruin it’. So I will quiet myself around him, I will hold this turmoil inside, I make sure he knows that no matter what if he wants to play hockey he will, maybe just not at the level that he thought he would. I will keep offering him opportunities to feel great about his work ethic on and off the ice. I will keep swiping the credit card for camps, training and seasons beyond this. I will keep fostering his dream because he’s only young once and at 40 I know there is nothing better than the feeling that there is a future.

Will it stop me from memorizing his tryout number as soon as I know it? Refreshing my browser 40 times a minute from the moment we leave the rink until the set of cuts for that day have been posted? Or crying in front of him if he doesn’t make the team he wants because I know the heartbreak he’s feeling? Heck no I’m a hockey mom.

Have you been through this? Do you have tips for me? Reach in – we all need a positive perspective and I could use one right now.



Yep Goalie Mom is the Worst

Almost daily I come across a discussion in one Facebook group or another about being a goalie parent. How hard it is – where to sit in the area – how to handle a loss – when to get out to the game and go back to being a player. While I’m no expert – I’m sure Carey Price’s parents have a few more tips than I do – I have now spent a few years behind the net and am getting ready to spend more as our second son has decided to torture me more by becoming a goalie this season.


William final sharing-3313

When my son first started playing – just a summer season “to try it out” – and for the first season or more after he started playing rep. hockey I would sit alone in the stands, following him from one end to the other. I would be biting my nails or knitting furiously and trying to block out the comments from parents who were close enough to me that I could hear. I would wiggle and cringe when the puck even neared him – willing it to go the other way.

After a season of not even enjoying his games because I was holding in so much anxious energy I also realized that it’s not likely only me – when he looks over and sees me balled up in a corner hiding he likely can’t focus on what he’s suppose to be doing because he’s worried about what I’m doing!


Here comes the advice part – make it easy on yourself!

  • It’s hard to hear your kid sucks – but you’re going to hear it and it has NOTHING to do with your kid.
  • Watching your goalie get pulled is heart wrenching – it might be the first time but it won’t be the last.
  • Making yourself part of the team means that the other parents get to know you and it is a lot harder to criticize your goalie’s every move when they know you!
  • Yes there are going to be parents who just don’t get it – yep! Just like we don’t know how frustrating it is to watch your kid take 10 shots and not score once.
  • Get a hobby before games – I often still knit my nerves out before my goalie is in net but once the game is on I’m there to cheer all our boys.
  • Get a hobby during the games – my camera is my way to watch the game and not focus on just my kid and how he is performing.


Tonight we play in a game being dubbed “The Battle of Brantford” facing off against another Peewee team who we know, some of who we have played with before, and it is the talk of the town. Parents who don’t have kids on either team are talking about the game and how they can’t wait to watch. It’s all the things I hate about hockey, it’s pure competition, extremely contentious and while I wish that I could just not go – my kid is in net. None of the above advice applies to a game where you know the kids, you know the parents, your kid is in net, and no one is going to settle for a loss. This might need a follow-up post to let you know the new advice when I figure it out – for now I’m thinking hide in the corner and try and get out alive.


– Barbara