I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked myself this very question. Why would anyone choose to be a goaltender? I remember writing an article that started with a line that read, “And so my son was born a goalie…”. I had a fellow goalie Mom tell me that my son was born a human being first. She went on to say that telling him he was born a goalie was far too much pressure. I remember thinking, “Thanks tips, I thought it was weird when he came out of my womb with hockey pads on!” I obviously wasn’t being literal when I said he was “born” a goalie but I have to tell you, I also think there is some truth to that statement.
I have a very limited understanding of what it feels like to be a goalie. My only experience was from playing with my brothers when they were desperate for someone to stand in net. For a player, I can see the appeal of playing for a full game, being part of the big plays and making those game changing saves. No matter how you slice it, being a goalie puts you in the thick of the game. Here’s my logic, in my experience, if someone was a goalie in hockey, they usually chose the position of back catcher in ball. For some reason they love to stand or squat, glove in hand, and wait for a puck or a ball to be fired at them. I’m sure many goalie parents will be the first to say that when their child played house league and took their turn in net, they were usually hooked. Every other kid would try and hide while the coach was looking for a volunteer to strap on the pads but for some reason some kids loved it. That’s my whole point, what makes a kid want that kind of pressure? There is a love for this position that I think can only be understood by fellow netminders.
I can say with complete honesty that I was so proud of my son every time he took his place in net. That said, would I have chosen that position for him…HARD NO! Being a goalie parent meant facing so many emotions during a game. I didn’t take well to hearing other parents tell me my child needed to focus for the “whole” game at the age of six, seven, and eight when, at that age, daydreaming was as much a sport as hockey was. I found it difficult during games knowing that you were either about to watch your child full of confidence because he or she made that big save, or full of heartbreak because he or she let in the goal that cost the game? It also meant that no matter how many times I wanted him to quit or change positions, it was a battle I wasn’t going to win. The second my son strapped on those pads; he was hooked. It was in him; it was his passion and it was his happy place. Win or lose, it was the only place he wanted to be. I didn’t understand it but I didn’t need to, it wasn’t my passion to follow.
I’ve heard many people say that goalies are weird but I choose to see them as brave. For all you goalie parents out there, I think you’re brave too. It’s not always an easy position to watch. I don’t know if goalies are “born” with that passion in them. What I would say is that I don’t think we choose our passions; I think our passions choose us. So, if you’re trying to talk your young player out of playing that position – let it go. Once a goalie always a goalie!
Written by Allyson Tufts