Are you done yet? Or near to it?
Those are questions that are often asked of young hockey players navigating their way through the conclusion of tryouts, but most parents in western Canada would probably have a colourful response were they asked the same.
Especially if their child didn’t make the team.
Aha! Herein lay the problem. There’s only 15 or so players who do make the top team, and while it might be disappointing to get released from the first team, you’re still making a team. Even if it’s the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th team. And so on!
It happens every year where there’s a player who could fit in fine on two teams. The problem is we fail to recognize the benefits of either situation. It’s not always the best situation to be on a team that requires a young athlete to scrape and claw just to keep their head above water on the ice.
But it’s always beneficial to build confidence and success on the next team. Always. I coached at the North Shore Winter Club for five years. The first batch of kids I coached are now entering their first year of midget hockey. I’ve seen several players jostle for position, leapfrogging their peers one year only to be placed on a lower team the following year. It comes down to each individual situation. There’s no blanket statement or rule that governs a minor hockey player’s career expect to say that in the end, they can only control themselves.
Oh and don’t call it a career.
So you’ve been released. Is it alright to be disappointed? Heck yes it is. Is it ok to behave like you’re above the players on your new team and cast an air of entitlement that poisons the well for everyone involved?
No, obviously not.
One year I had a player who was cut but managed to make it to her first practice with our team an hour after the release. An hour! Still had tears in her eyes, but what better time to prove her commitment to her new teammates?
And that’s such a huge part of it, right? No matter what team your child ends up with, they’re going to meet and work with a new group of peers, and it’s never easy getting over a negative first encounter. By the time the season is rolling, that initial disappointment of getting released will fade into a distant memory, a teaching point to be sure, but a memory all the same.
So parents, here’s my request to you this fall. If we’re pushing our children to worry about themselves and invest mental energy into the things they can control, we must do the same. If your child is released, work through it with them and help them refocus their disappointment and shape it into ambition, determination, and character. If they’re not disappointed, it’s still a good idea to support them and teach them about how hockey skills are seamlessly translatable into life skills.
Being released is not easy. But it’s also a unique opportunity to learn a lesson that will stick with your child forever.