Let me repeat the last sentence of Susan's letter.
"Even at this age their heart needs to be in it."
Young children want to have fun. To have fun, they must be challenged
and feel good about what they have accomplished. If a child is head and
shoulders above the rest of the competition, he will not feel satisfied.
It is like being on a team that is so much stronger than everyone else
that you win all of the time. It is fun for a while, but in time it gets
boring. You need to be challenged. Winning isn't that important if it is
all that you know. In order to experience the thrill and joy of winning,
you must experience the feeling of defeat. Only then will you appreciate
And so, each year, parents must face the ordeal of trying out for the
travelling teams. I can recall the first year my son tried out for the
travelling team. He was one of the last ones cut from the team and had to
go "down" to house league. It was devastating for him to be told
by the coach that he wasn't good enough to make it. Some of his close
friends made the team and he felt embarrassed. That year on the house
league team was his best ever. He was made captain of the team and was the
leading scorer. His teammates looked up to him and he became a real
leader. Around the middle of the season the travelling team coach called
me and said that he would like to "bring up my son and another child
from another team" to finish off the season on the travelling team.
I spoke to my son about it and he decided that he wanted to stay on his
house league team. He felt that it would be letting them down if he left
half way through the season and besides, he was having fun. He finished
the season with his house league team. They won the championship game when
he scored the only goal of the game late in the third period. To see him
hold the trophy above his head and feel that he had really contributed to
the victory gave me a feeling that only a parent could understand.
After that year, he played on the travelling team for the rest of his
minor hockey. He eventually stopped playing competitive hockey after
PeeWees so that he could play high school sports and devote his time to
refereeing, but I still think getting cut from the travelling team the
first time he tried out was the best thing that has ever happened to him.
Susan's son wants to play at a higher level. She senses it. He is
asking for it. He is competitive and wants to play were the competition
is. Regardless of what Susan feels about parents of travelling kids, she
is going to have to go along and allow her son to play or he is going to
lose his interest in hockey.
Hockey can be fun - at any level - if we keep our priorities straight.
It is only a game and it is supposed to be fun for everyone. If your child
has what it takes to go on and make a professional career out of hockey,
so be it. Then it will become work. Then it will become a job. Until then,
do what you can to keep it just a game.