The Skating Gnu had an away game in the Twin Cities today. I volunteered to keep score along with three other parents, two from each team. Although the score was lopsided to the point where we stopped posting updates to the scoreboard, everyone seems to have had a great time. I've had the pleasure of witnessing a fine example of sportsmanship and good old Southern hospitality from a young team with great potential.
Our hosts are members of a fine organization. They have their priorities in proper order. Youth sports is about kids having fun. It's a game, not a career, and most folks seem to understand that. Some people have a notion that hockey parents are crazy: yelling at the kids, coaches and refereees, throwing tantrums, fighting or just acting like children themselves. Granted, there are cases where such foolishness happens, but I don't see it around this part of the country.
Instead, I see a cadre of dedicated parents, working hard to help run organizations in far-flung cities whose primary focus is on kids having fun playing a great game. The first rule is to keep it fun for the kids. The second rule is help them learn lessons they'll use for the rest of their lives: Teamwork, Sportsmanship, Communication, Practice and Perseverence. The third rule is to have fun, play hard (but fair and honourable!) and do your best.
The parents in the stands shouted encouragement, not curses. Coaches taught teamwork, communication and strategy, not aggression, showboating or dirty play. Those of us in the scoring booth had a great time swapping stories about how our kids got hooked on hockey, how well all the kids were doing in the game, complimenting each other on great moves, checks, scores and some good-natured joshing over missed shots, awesome goalie saves and slapshots. All-in-all, I'd say the sport is in good hands here with a bright future.
Hockey is not native to the South, but it's becoming one of the fastest growing sports around here. These hardworking volunteers help promote a sport in a region of the country whose normal reaction to a sheet of ice is to collectively stampede to the grocery store in mass panic to purchase the maximum allotment each of bread, milk and eggs.
Kudos to all the volunteers and parents who help keep the game fun for the kids!