10 Life Lessons Learned on the Rink

True happiness

I’m a hockey mom. I loved watching my son play the game because of the sheer joy I saw on his face even through the cage on his mask and the mouth guard in his smile. I also loved the lessons he, and I, learned throughout his 14 years on the ice.

1. With practice and desire one can become really good!
My son started playing hockey at age 4. I remember him struggling to cross the ice without falling down pushing a milk crate to keep him steady. He worked on just standing up without falling over for a really long time and was he was determined! Later, in his teens, I went ice skating with him on Boston’s Frog Pond and he was holding me up while skating backwards to help me across the ice. He is pretty amazing on skates and I was looking everywhere for a milk crate!

2. Don’t let physical limitations fool you into thinking you can’t do something.
My son had pretty severe asthma as a child and spent many days in the hospital trying to overcome attacks on his little body. Most people would have let this type of condition prevent activity, but with medical consent and guidance he went on to play ice hockey. I wasn’t going to let his limitation prevent him from living the life he wanted, we adjusted accordingly and kept on top and in front of his condition. We can let our limitations restrict us or make us more resourceful.

3. When you get checked (even from behind) get up and get moving, the game is still going on!
Some people from these hockey days might remember hearing this woman in the stands yelling, “Get up! This is not ice dancing!” Yah, that was me, he was a defenseman. It’s nearly impossible to defend the net from your butt! This lesson was really important to me when my mother died. I couldn’t help the team (my family) if I was on my butt, I had to get up, life was still going. I had an important job to do so I geared up and got back in the game.

This isn't ice dancing

This isn’t ice dancing

4. Sometimes there will be an unfair play.
OK, life is not fair – move on. I could have tried to teach my son this lesson by telling him that things in life may happen that are not “fair” but I didn’t have to, hockey did it for me. When a bad play is made during a game people get upset, but the game moves on. You can’t sit around complaining (unless it’s soccer ☺) you’ll get a delay of game penalty! Sticks down – the ice is melting!

5. Prepare for the game you are in.
There are times you will have formidable opponents and times you will have easy ones either way the game is the same. If you prepare for the opponent and not the game there is a chance you have miscalculated. If you always prepare for the game you should be ready no matter which opponent shows up to play.

6. Wear good protection!
Yes, hockey can be a dangerous sport, but have you seen the pads that go on before a game? Whatever the game you’re in, prepare. You may get bumped and bruised but with good padding you’re a bit protected. In life he has taken off the pads, but certainly has a thick skin because after all, this isn’t ice dancing!

7. Authority figures sometimes make a bad call.
Yes there are bad calls made, by coaches or by referees. Sometimes that makes or breaks the game (sorry Seahawks) but you can only be responsible for how you play. No matter what the referee sees, calls or doesn’t call, you are responsible for playing the game with integrity and heart. Stay focused on what you control and how you play.

8. One person does not lose the game.
One game my son got off the ice and he was mad at the coaches for keeping a bad goalie in the net. I quickly reminded him this was a team sport and that if everyone had done their job properly no one would have been able to get past five players to get a shot off. Most losses in life are also the responsibility of multiple parties, it is often not the result or effort of only one party.

9. Sometimes you will lose and you will survive and be better for it.
I remember a particularly hard loss my son had. It was a playoff game and he played his little heart out! I know that day he left EVERYTHING on the ice and I was so proud of his efforts. It was a great game but they lost. My son came out of the locker room in a bit of a hurry and when we got to the car he just sobbed. That was my son’s first heartbreak and he learned that sometimes you can put all your efforts out there and things just won’t go your way. By the afternoon he was able to talk about the game and remember a few good plays and a few really awful plays. He became a better player and probably person from that loss.

10. When you have felt the disappointment of losing, you become a better winner.
I have such a problem with society trying to protect our children from losing! When my son was very young his team was getting just slaughtered on the ice. By the close of the first period the score was something like 8-0. So as they came out on the ice for the second period and the goals continued to pile up, the score never changed. When talking to my son after about such a tough loss he said the coaches told the players the scoreboard got stuck. I let him know that it had not gotten stuck they stopped it and that his team got schmucked 22-0 (or something like that). I reminded him that the other team just played better this time and they deserved every goal. I also pointed out how the other team handled their win – they did not gloat at such a huge score and that was what good sportsmanship was about. He never forgot that game and remains a bit humble when he wins in anything knowing what it feels like on the other end. In life clearly there are wins and losses but it’s how you handle each that determines your character.

I required both of my children to play sports growing up for the experiences they would gain and the lessons they would learn. I believe there is so much about life to be learned in a sports setting that is grasped best when it plays out on the field, court, rink, etc.

I think for all that my children learned in their sports, I also gained valuable insight. The life lessons are there for all of us, the players and the parent.

Play on!
-E

Play On!

Play On!

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