Perspective on Ice

A newly minted hockey mom puts perspective on this youth pursuit.

With the Flyers families gracing our cover this month, we've got hockey on the brain. So does MomSpeaker Shivaun Williams, who here emphasizes what really matters when boys put on the pads and meet up on the ice.

"So, how does this work?" I whispered, my empty travel mug in one hand and fleece-lined blanket in the other.

"Do we beat them up in the parking lot, because I can totally take the short one."

I may be new to hockey, but I am certainly no stranger to the world of crazy-talking-parents-at youth-sports. My two older girls have run the local softball circuit, I've met sideline-crazy. We never had to settle the score in the parking lot, and this being my first hockey season, I wasn't sure if the rules were different.

My hockey-mom friends and I had just endured three 12-minute periods sandwiched between the overzealous parents of the opposing team. Overzealous is too kind. Obnoxious, cringe-worthy and disgusting might describe them better. The only thing that silenced these uber-fans was when one of their own lie face-down on the ice, holding his head. Even then, they couldn't keep it together long. One guy, who appeared to be the boy's father, yelling after about 30 seconds "Shake it off" from behind his tripod and video camera.

They say in life, we are given signs, a clue as to how things are going to transpire. Our first sign that day was what greeted us in the hockey-rink parking lot. At the far end, past the cars and minivans, on the blacktop, was the opposing team, clad in matching sweatsuits, military-style, doing jumping jacks.

"Oh, they're one of those teams," I said. The kind of team that trains day and night to kill, er, beat their opponent — not that there's anything wrong with that. Their well-planned intimidation factor was not lost on our boys. Our team of boys, who act like a bunch of little boys, because well, they are. All season, we have watched them play hard, week after week, giving it their all. Now and again reminded with their locker-room antics (bombing one another with wads of tape), that they are still little boys.

As each penalty, setback or missed puck was played out, the groans and complaints from these crazy hockey parents kept coming. While biting my tongue, I had a brilliant idea. Maybe that obnoxious dad behind me, who commented on everything, could slip on a pair of skates and hop his 40-something ass out onto the ice and do a better job. It would really make us all think about the critiquing we do as parents.

I've always told my own kids that the view from the bleachers is crystal-clear. Parents can see everything you do, what you should do, what you shouldn't have done. Some of us feel the need to shout it at you throughout the game. We know you don't hear us, but we're excited.

Excited, I get. Nasty? Not so much. I also don't get referee heckling. Because when the game ends, underneath the layers of equipment, those little boys emerge and have forgotten it all when they're at home on their bikes and building ramps.

Because.

They.

Are.

Little.

Boys.

So, as the game ended, and the opposing team scored another Win for their record, yet were not awarded the Stanley Cup, I couldn't help but notice some differences. The team that had marched like soldiers through the parking lot and played hard to the beat of their loud, obnoxious parents, celebrated on their end of the ice, at the end of the game, a little different from our team. As that final buzzer sounded, they professed their excitement by skating around the ice and cheering themselves, individually. While our boys, who clearly felt the defeat, rallied around their goalie hugging one another, forming one big giant formation. The true sign of a team, in my book.

This, their last game, was hard-fought, like all of their games. Unfortunately it ended in a loss, even more unfortunate, the loud celebratory parents, who acted as if they had scored the goals themselves.

After it all, I was still wondering if we would have to go fight these parents in the parking lot, and I must admit I was relieved when the answer was "no." Because I'm just a hockey mom and I'm tired.

Shivaun Williams is a Bucks County, PA writer and mom of three. This post is adapted from her blog, Dar Liomsa (In My Opinion).

Categories: MomSpeak