Friday, December 16, 2011

New Sweaters Bring a New Attitude

This is from my Kings County Record Column from December 13th, 2011.  Kids seem to really inspire my writing, I love how everything is so huge and exciting to them.
 
Hockey is once again underway for another season and once again I am coaching the 5-6year old kids.  It is proving very rewarding, especially since I have been able to take my lessons learned from my previous year's experience and put them to good use.  The number of kids playing this year has increased and to start we were short about a half dozen jerseys and a couple of coaches.  A couple of willing dads stepped up to take on the needed coaching spots and a local sponsor allows us to purchase new sweaters every three years and a big thanks goes out to everyone who is making a contribution. 
McKnighthockey.com
The newer jerseys were identical to the old ones but, they are, new.  When we brought them out and let the kids know they were getting new sweaters loud screaming and hollering ensued.  Some kids wanted new colors, others wanted new numbers, others wanted the same color and numbers, while others were still wondering what was going on.  With four colors to work with we were able to organize the kids into comparable skill categories. 
With help from many of the mothers, we were able to get all the kids into their new sweater before the end of practice.  I rotated the kids through skill and game stations, with one of the stations being a sweater exchange.  After getting their sweater, the first year kids especially, were coming up and pulling on my old tattered sweater asking me to look at their new one with a big Christmas sized grin on their face.  After I acknowledged how great they looked they proudly skated away.  I swear many of them skated stronger, faster, and harder with the new hockey sweater.
Something as simple as a new sweater is a big deal to a young kid and for some could be the turning point of the season and that moment that triggers their desire to come back and play next year.  It is those moments or a number of smaller moments that build their confidence and make them feel like a true hockey player.
This could be a short edited version of our entire lives.  I know for me that my life has been formed by a number of small victories or successful lessons learned.  These victories often came during a time when I was feeling slightly defeated or uncertain about the next steps.  I have to give thanks to God that when I needed it most a positive experience was there to keep me moving towards my goals.  For a young hockey player, a new jersey may be all he needs to start scoring goals for his team. 
Just as a side note, I simply coach a team, but there are a number of people who work hard to organize Sussex Minor Hockey.  It is often a thankless job that results in upset parents calling you at all hours of the day, or a need to fill out multiple insurance forms, or having to spend consecutive hours at the rink.  This is true for many minor sport volunteers so if your kid plays sports, be sure to thank them.  I want to say thanks to Sussex Minor Hockey board members and volunteers, its an awesome organization.

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