One of the toughest things I found about being a goalie parent was the constant comparison of the goalies. I’m sure comparisons happen with the other players but it always seemed much more obvious for the goalies. There is nothing worse than overhearing someone ask, “Why did they put him in for this game?” or “The other goalie just moves better!” I completely understand having opinions on the players but there are times they are better kept to yourself. For some reason it seems that there is less tact when it comes to discussing the abilities of netminders.
I remember a time when I experienced a moment in the rink when I was the brunt of a passionate hockey Mom’s strong comparisons. Before I write this story, I need to say I was no saint when I got caught up in the passion of the game on many occasions. There are moments I’d love to take back.
It was a Sunday afternoon and I was headed to our old arena to watch my son play. It was our first year playing Rep and I always loved going to the games. As much as I enjoyed it, it made me extremely nervous because he was new to the team and was still getting used to the speed at that level. My husband worked shift work at the time so he was unable to join me. My daughter was having a date with Grandma so I was by myself.
As I walked into the rink solo, I felt a bit like a kid on my first day at school. I wasn’t sure where to sit and really didn’t know anyone all that well. Luckily, the coach’s wife offered me a seat beside her. She was sitting with some of the other mom’s that I didn’t know yet. One of them was the mother of the other goalie. She was very confident and would always make fun of how upset people got over hockey and how silly she found it. I guess when your son is the number one goalie, you don’t have much to get upset about. As we settled into our seats, I was enjoying being part of the group and was starting to feel more relaxed.
Towards the end of the game another one of the Moms arrived. She had a career as a therapist, and her husband was a police officer. I would watch her at the rink, navigating all four of her kids while her husband was off fighting crime somewhere. She was the kind of woman who made me feel insecure; she always talked to her kids very calmly in a soft- spoken tone. She was sitting the farthest away from me, and it was apparent that she was good friends with the rest of the moms.
The game ended and we lost with my son in net. I thought he played a good game and I was proud of how he kept his cool between the pipes. Before we got up from our seats, this lovely calm woman, who I so admired, leaned forward to the other goalie Mom and said, “I hope they play your son for the next game.”
My heart sank. It felt like someone punched me in the stomach, and then that feeling turned to complete rage. I leaned forward and looked at her. I was determined that she know that I was sitting there and heard everything she had just said. The other Moms went quiet, you could have cut the tension with a knife. She then looked at me and said, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean that!” The truth was, she did mean that and was completely entitled to her opinion. I just wish she could have saved it for a more private setting rather than in the stands. That one comment put a bad taste in my mouth for a very long time, and, sadly, it kept her from coming to the rink for about two months. I honestly think she left feeling worse than I did.
I think if we are going to spend our energy talking about players at the rink, let’s say words of encouragement to the players and their parents. This game is competitive enough without making it worse. We just need to remember to think before we speak. If you really need to discuss it leave it to the privacy of your own home.
Goalies are different and so are the shots they take. It’s good to have different styles of players, embrace them all. I wouldn’t want to stand in net and have pucks shot at my head.
– Written by Allyson Tufts