Becoming a Hockey Mom.

by Meredith O'Brien


I was supposed to be in my Zen place, pushing away all extraneous thoughts. It was a yoga class, after all. But instead of chilling out, I was all worked up. Why? Two hockey moms in my class had told me that if my 8-year-old kid is interested in playing hockey, I’d better get used to the idea that his schedule and hockey would rule in my house.


“But what about the fact that I have two other children who both play soccer and have games and practices of their own?” I said, my voice getting higher as my face reddened. “And I’m trying to have a career here.”


The women shrugged. One said, “Something’s got to give.”


“That,” I stammered, “always winds up being me.”


“Enjoy it,” the other said sympathetically. “This time goes by so quickly.”


I don’t want the fact that my kid is interested in playing a recreational sport, just for fun – not for the purposes of becoming an Olympian or netting a college scholarship – to suck all the oxygen out of the family and leave me, the person who works from home and is therefore considered “available” for child care/transportation issues, resentful. “What am I getting myself into?” I asked myself.


Then I read a column called, “My 13 simple rules for hockey parents everywhere” by an ESPN writer. Included among his “rules” was the admonition that hockey practices were not to be missed under any circumstances. He used the example of a PROFESSIONAL hockey player who was hit by an SUV and still played hockey that night as role modeling good hockey behavior. I wanted to scream, “My kid’s 8. He’s a kid! It’s an afterschool game, not something that’s really important, like his education! Or his health. Get some perspective.”


Great article!! This really resonated with me- I enjoy sports & recreation but don't like schlepping kids around in the car and resent activities that cut into family time. Hope you can find a way to let your son play hockey without that sport imposing too many constraints on the rest of your clan (yourself included!). Maybe there are things you could do at the rink to make your time there more bearable- listen to great content on an mp3 player or use the time as a designated opportunity to call someone you don't usually have time to call, that sort of thing.


My 8 year old loves to play competetive sports, but not in the way it is currently played in most city leagues. Everyone wins and no scores "are tallied". She also loves to dance. We recently moved to a new area and were floored to learn that if we wanted our daughter to be in a "good" dance program it would cost about 300$ p/month not including costumes, travel and other costs. If we wanted her to be on a "good" fast-pitch softball team; this too would cost hundreds of dollars and require weekends out of town playing 2 to 3 nights. My husband laughed--saying she's too young to pay that much money, if she's got talent, she'll have it playing in regular teams. He's right! We have seen so many families pour money into these programs thinking it will get kids where they want them; only to be disappointed. She has valuable lessons to be learned and there's no rush!


I was also a reluctant hockey mom, but I married a Canadian, so I should have known that resistance was futile. I agree with chaoslian. It will only take over your life if you let it. There is a commitment to the sport, but that also means I get to know the whole family of each player on the team. Its a wholesome subculture that I have grown to enjoy more and more each year. My daughter and I jog at the rink or play Dance Dance Revolution while my son practices. Enjoy!


As a veteran sports parent, a writer in this field, and a mother of two boys who has sought the answers to many of the questions you ask in the article, here's my two cents.

Avoid the club sports commitment until the kids are a bit older, like 10 or 11. Your son will not be tragically behind in his puck-handling skills no matter what anyone tells you. He may actually improve into a better all around athlete and hockey player if you keep him busy, active and healthy over the next few years participating in many sports, not just one. Burn out is a real issue with the little guys and 8 is young to start any year round commitment. Plus, once boys go through middle school and their bodies change, it levels the playing field ( or ice) in many sports.

That being said, if you do sign up, enjoy the experience. It will take over you life if you think of it that way. Or, the sports becomes an activity that you and your family enjoy and do together. Some of it is attitude. And resistance is futile!

Check out Cal Ripkin's excellent book Raising Young Athletes and the Positive Coaching Alliance website for some sane, safe advice on this topic.

Good luck. Get some long underwear.

Lian Dolan