Unless you are Canadian, Swedish, Russian or from basically any cold-weather locale, indoor rinks are at a premium and so is ice time. For the record and the sake of this article, I include the Great Lakes and the Northeast as a part of Canada.
If your kid has decided to play hockey and you are committed and ready to do it, the question of where is likely to be asked. Unless you live in one of the locations mentioned above. The answer for them is usually, “Go outside and don’t come back until dinner, on non-practice days” and “watch for cars” during the summer.
So, what kind of organization are you looking for?
Are you looking for an organization that is competitive? Are you looking for a safe place for your child to learn the game? Most organizations have multiple levels at every age group, to meet the needs of players and their development. These are usually referred to as House (i.e. recreational) and Rep teams. Depending on the number of kids in the organization they might be tiered. This serves to further segment the athletes based on skill level. Hockey, as you know if you are reading this blog, moves pretty fast and everyone develops at a different speed.
Beginners classes will lump everyone together, though even at that early stage the development of young skaters happens fast. I have seen many girls in our organization that were unable to skate on the first day, turn into great skaters in 9 weeks.
In earlier entries, I talked about Try Hockey for Free events. These are a great way to get a start. But what about when you are ready to play? Have a conversation with your kid about their goals. What are they looking to get from this? What are your goals for your child? If you want a Win at all costs, very competitive team?
Think the Hawks in the Mighty Ducks. If you don’t get the reference, watch it, with your kid. It’s a fun watch and a good introduction to talking about what your collective goals are and how to achieve them.
On a special note, as a Beginners Director for a female hockey organization we have conversations with many parents, about finding the right spot for their girls. There are some differences to consider in female hockey. Is your daughter going to play on a co-ed team? If so, is she getting the minutes that she needs and time on the puck? A common refrain that we hear, is that the girls don’t get the time on the puck that they need in a co-ed team. This is not every team, but a common thread. Also, would your daughter be happier playing in an all-girls organization?
In choosing a program, contact the board of that organization and ask them questions. Every organization should also have a mission statement, outlining their philosophy posted on the site. Also, trust your gut. If you feel like Danny in the Karate Kid, walking into the Cobra Kai Dojo or like Coach Bombay as a kid on the aforementioned Hawks, maybe it isn’t the right organization for you. This is a big decision and one that will take a lot of time if your kid pursues it. The season runs from fall to spring. Make sure that you are making the choice together.
Be Well, Have Fun, Play Hockey – Isle5Cleanup