Monday, August 25, 2014

Different, Defined

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of posts that are a little too long to be simple Facebook posts.  I figured I’d start with something that gives you some background on the genesis of this site, on me as its facilitator and on the philosophy I will embrace here. 

I should start with a disclaimer, just in case anyone might be thinking they’re reading the sage words of an “expert”.  I want to be clear from the start:  I am NOT a professional blogger, a journalist, a hockey expert or a coach.  What I am is a hockey fan and a goalie mom.  I’m also a Physician Assistant. Just so we’re clear, I won’t (and legally can’t) dispense any medical advice, but it probably bears mentioning only because I do know a thing or two about the health of athletes, so you can be sure that if I post something health-related here on the site, it will be well-vetted, evidence-based and rooted soundly in modern Western medicine.

So how did I get here?  I started going to hockey games in undergrad.  I fell in love with the sport immediately.  I went to all the games I could throughout undergrad and PA school.  As a practicing PA, I have worked for many years in the field of Orthopedic Surgery/Sports Medicine and have been lucky enough to work for a practice that served as team docs to a Division I hockey team.  I’ve covered games, assessed injuries in the locker room, stitched up facial lacerations, fished broken teeth out of mouths, evaluated concussions, set fractures, and done countless, countless sports-related surgeries on hockey players.  I understand the stresses this sport places on athletes’ bodies. 

Life really took a turn when I met and married a Canadian hockey goalie.  No, his name isn’t Clark.  (If you don’t get that, Google it.  You’re missing one of the all-time best videos ever made about goalies.)  It was only then that I truly began to get what people meant by goalies being “different”.   Oh, I sort of understood it before that.  I mean, it wasn’t lost on me that the goalie who wouldn’t get dressed in the locker room before games until he had meticulously clipped and filed his toenails may have been a fork or two short of a picnic.  But when you live under the same roof as one….well….you really get an appreciation for the fact that they are NOT wired like everyone else.  And then I gave birth to a goalie.  And then my goalie husband started coaching my goalie son.  And then we served as billet parents to AAA goalies.  FYI, if you haven’t had the pleasure of living with three goalies under one roof and are wondering what it is like, it is somewhat akin to jumping down Alice’s rabbit hole in Wonderland.   And the smell……. Wow… the smell….  Oh, and I’m pretty sure that at least 46% of my adult waking hours have been spent with sports blaring on a television somewhere in my house, mostly hockey and college football.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that, although I have no formal hockey expertise, I think I know a thing or two about hockey and about goalies.  I’ve been the wife, mom and billet mom of some really great goalies.  I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly sides of hockey.  I’ve seen good coaches and bad coaches.  I’ve been privileged to have been on teams with mostly FANTASTIC fellow hockey parents, but I’ve seen the worst of parents, too.  I don’t know it all.  I’m often wrong.  I’m open to being corrected and I love, love, LOVE to discuss and debate hockey.

I also teach at the grad school, educating others is a natural tendency for me and that contributes to my passion for this social media cluster.  I want people to have the resources to learn what it takes to be a GREAT goalie parent.  We are growing the next generation of net minders...we have a big responsibility to do it right.  Collectively, WE can make a difference in the game of hockey, without ever even stepping on the ice.  Bet you never thought of us as a powerful voice, did you?  There is strength in numbers and we, too, can make a difference...together!

I started this cluster of social media sites (FB page, FB group, this blog and a Twitter account) in April of 2014.  I started it because I wish I had had this sort of resource when my son was younger.  There are plenty of sites out there for hockey parents, but not much to speak of that is specific to goalies.  Oh sure, there are sites for hockey moms that post sparkly shirts and cute memes, but I wanted something more.  In the digital age of social media, there SHOULD be a place for us to go to congregate.  A safe place where we can commiserate, share stories, lend advice, get advice and brag. And I wanted the dads involved, too.  Many of you are doing this thing together with your spouse, and it's important to learn and be on the same page about your approach to parenting.  Or maybe you're doing it as a single parent and need all the extra help and information you can get.   Either way, we are here for you.  WE are a community.

Let’s face it…whether we like it or not, we are DIFFERENT from the average hockey parent.  The pressures on our kids are different.  The dynamic of their position is different.  The expectation of the coaches is different.  And anyone who owns a goalie knows….THEY ARE DIFFERENT!  Call them what you want…unique, quirky, odd, particular, superstitious…pick your adjective…they’re all just a little bit off.  When my son was young and first started in net, people liked to remind me that all goalies are just a little bit crazy.  I used to think to myself, “I don’t think my kid is weird like that.  Maybe not ALL goalies are weird.  That’s just a stereotype.”   Nope.  They were right.   He’s just as wack-a-doodle as the rest of them.  They ALL are.  If you’re a new at this and you’re still telling yourself otherwise, you haven’t yet earned your full stripes as a goalie parent.  Don’t worry.  You’ll get there.  You’ll have the ‘a-ha moment’ eventually. 

But the things that make them different are the things that make them so.  Darned.  LOVEABLE.  They’re an enigma.  If you love a good mystery, trying to figure out what’s going on in their heads will keep you busy for years.   You’ll bend over backwards to cater to their superstitions.   For example, one of my friends’ goalie believed that he wouldn’t play well unless he ate chicken nuggets and heart-shaped brownies before a game.  Every game.  She tirelessly packed pans of brownies, her heart-shaped cookie cutter and boxes of nuggets in the cooler for those early-morning trips to the rink at the hour when McDonalds was still only serving McMuffins.  Everyone else would be in the hotel lobby at 5 a.m., eyes bleary and sluggishly filling mugs with bad hotel coffee, and she’d be at the microwave, nuking nuggets for her goalie.  Despite their quirky ways, we love them.  And that’s why I created this site.  No one understands us but us.  We need each other, because they’re not the only ones who are different.  We are different, too. 

I promise that this site will always embrace good dialogue.  We will be respectful of others’ opinions, even if we don’t agree.   We will agree to disagree.  We will educate each other. We will support each other.  I would love nothing more than for this to grow and develop into a rich resource.  And YOU are a part of what will make that happen.  So please join me.  Jump in.  Offer opinions. Recruit others.  Let’s be DIFFERENT TOGETHER!

**Edited in Jan 2016 for some updates.

No comments:

Post a Comment