Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Goalie Parent Culture: It's Up to Us

There are many ways that parenting a goalie creates unique challenges and obstacles.  It is filled with white-knuckle, jaws-clenched, eyes-closed moments when you don’t even realize you’re not breathing until after the save is made or the goal is scored.  It’s filled with head-shaking, dumbfounded, speechless moments when your goalie exhibits bizarre behavior that only a goalie could come up with.  It’s the after-game walk into the lobby after a particularly tough game, bracing yourself for the inevitable sideways glances and looks of pity from the other parents…even though YOU know your goalie stood on his head and did the best he could, but the entire team effort wasn’t enough…yet somehow they blame YOUR kid instead of their own. 

Goalie parents share a bond.  We all go through the same roller coaster of emotions each and every season.  Tryouts, good games, bad games, team politics, rude parents, ignorant parents….our individual stories are variations on a theme, but we all experience them in much the same manner.  It’s probably why one goalie parent can almost always spot another one in the lobby or the stands.  (Perhaps we recognize one another from the waiting room of our psychiatrist’s office?) 

And this is why goalie parents NEED each other.  Jacques Plante once said “Only a goalie can appreciate what a goalie goes through.”  I think the same can be said of goalie parents.  Only WE know what we go through.  

I propose that we collectively begin to define a culture among goalie parents.  That we create an environment of support and collaboration.  A Goalie Parent Code of Conduct, per se.  I propose that we work together to strengthen the resources available to goalies and to educate others about this unique position.  Here are the four principles of my proposal. 

1.  Support One Another

Mutual respect based on shared experiences should be the underlying principle of our culture.  Encourage one another.  Share your own experiences and expertise.  Seek each other out before or after games, regardless of the inter-squad dynamics and rivalries, to congratulate our goalies successes and encourage goalies who may still be developing.  Make an effort to reach out to new goalie parents in your organization and mentor them.   The HGP Code should supercede any silly political dynamics.

2.  Share Resources

 Everyone has so many great resources at their disposal.  We should do what we can to share information with others in an effort to raise each other up and make us all better.  We can do that in our HGP group by sharing great articles and content.  You can also share resources within your program or league.  Start a Facebook page or other group with fellow goalie parents in your area or organize a regional equipment swap (we all know how expensive gear is!) 

3.  Collaborate

Goalies are often the ‘forgotten children’ of hockey.  Leagues and organizations put a lot of resources into development of players, but often goalies are not a priority.  This is a perennial source of frustration for parents.  But there is strength in numbers, so WORK TOGETHER to find a solution.  If you’re frustrated with the lack of resources dedicated to goalies, gather all of the parents together and attend a board meeting.  Contact USA Hockey or Hockey Canada.   Don’t just sit around and stew in your own angst, band together and DO something to change it!

4.  Educate

 We know that there is a lack of understanding of the goalie position and its unique challenges outside of the goaltender circles.  People just don’t understand goaltending.  It drives us nuts.  We want to pull our hair out and scream from the mountaintops!   Again, I urge action instead of reaction.  Most “outsiders” behavior is rooted in misconceptions and a lack of real knowledge about goaltending.  So EDUCATE them!  We share a ton of great resources here on HGP and there is a lot more out there, too.  Find constructive ways to share information with parents, coaches and organization leaders.  Get your goalie coach involved, too.  Hold informational sessions, share articles, talk to people….help them understand the nuances so that they can learn to support goaltenders in the most constructive way.

The establishment of this culture depends on us, goalie parents.   We and we alone are responsible to decide how we want to exist and how we want to be perceived.   Let’s work together to create a healthy community of respect, support and collaboration! !  

1 comment:

  1. Best article I've ever read on being a parent of a goalie. It's like you read my exact thoughts.