We Thought it was a good time to re run this. Got this in the Mail. Food for thought.

 We Just Played

As I look around the arena of youth sports right now, especially youth hockey, I had to ask myself how in the world I developed such a love of this game back when I was a small boy? Did parents I was around back then act this way? Why was this sport the one thing we could do for hours and never get tired of it?

So I though back to my days of youth hockey. The 6 a.m. practices at the outside rink in the small town I grew up in. Walking 12 blocks with my skates tied together hanging over my shoulder, stick in hand and anxious to get there. Mr. Kirkpatrick was always there before any of us getting things set up. I can still see his Blue Chevy pick-up backed up next to the bench where we put our skates on. How many pucks did we put off the side of the fenders and he never got upset? We would skate for an hour and a half, following his instructions, then, after practice was over, we made our way over to the pond that sat in the middle of the city park and we played there for hours after that. We just played. No parents screaming, no coaches yelling, no referee’s, just us. Skating and dreaming we were Gordie or Bobby or Stan but we just played.

Back then we didn’t have fancy work-out places in office parks where parents lined the front counter and watched as a group of 10 year-olds went through drills on synthetic ice. My parents never went to practice. My dad never played so he wasn’t about to stand there and talk about what the coach should be doing. If he happened to give me a ride to practice it was because he was going that way, but had something he needed to do as well that day. And he just let me play the game. Back then we didn’t have $150 dollar sticks made of graphite, or $300 skates. We didn’t have fancy warm up’s and jerseys.  We played teams from the town’s near-by and when the game was over we came back home and headed back down to the pond in the park, and we played. Just played.

Somewhere we have lost that simple developing love for the sport. Love of just playing the game. The love of just being on the ice and skating. The love of a game so great that you would skate for hours outside in 8 degree weather and still not want to call it a day. Now we have parents spending thousands of dollars on equipment, travel expenses, workout programs and the list gets longer and longer. Who is this really for? Is it for the little player, or is it for mom and dad, many who have never put on the pads but are convinced they have seen enough hockey to know their child is the next great one? Is it for the parent who has to one-up the guy standing next to him to make sure his kid has the more expensive equipment and he can brag at the rink that his kid went to this camp and is working out with this person? Seems to be anymore. Just stand and listen next time your standing there. We’ve gotten so bad our kids are doing the same thing anymore. Does anyone just play the game?

One thing I remember most about my dad after one of my games is that he never replayed the game for me in the car on the way home. When we got in the car he would always ask “Did you have fun out there?” and that was it. If I broke a stick and he would re-glue it, clamp it in a vice overnight and re-tape it. If I couldn’t be fixed, he would spend the seven dollars for a new one, but I treated it like it was gold. I remember when I was picked for my high school team and I came home to tell him. “Don’t let your grades slip, congratulations” were the words he said. I remember how Coach Dudzinski walked up to him and told him that I was picked, not because I was better than some of the kids who did try-out but because I just loved being out there and didn’t know when to quit. I just loved to play.

My dad never complained to him about my ice time, or where I played. He sat in the stands on Tuesday and Friday nights and watched. And he just let me play. We won the State Championship one year, one of the greatest moments I have ever had in my life, and I will never forget what my dad said when I came off the ice. “Did you have fun?” I think back now and realize that I did have fun and that is why I love this game the way I do. And my dad let me have fun. He didn’t yell at me when I was 10 because I missed a pass, or when I was 12 and let that kid get by me on defense and score or when I was 14 and missed the net so bad on a shot that I knocked out the lights on the scoreboard. But he also didn’t brag to everyone when I put in the game winner in the quarterfinals in high school and taught me to never rub it in to someone. That was poor sportsmanship. He just let me play.

Now sometimes I see guys my age playing in a league and I stand there, jealous because my legs don’t allow me that joy anymore. The joy of just being out there like young boys, just playing the game. The joy of endless hours on the ice till it got to dark to see. The hours of just playing with kids that are still friends to this day. And we all just played. Maybe we should all just let our kids play.


51 responses to “We Thought it was a good time to re run this. Got this in the Mail. Food for thought.

  1. Geeeeezus Flounder…is it your position that I just let “junior” hang around this cowtown, collect his 10th place ribbon for participation and hope for the best? Hasn’t Me2 taught you anything????

    You’ll never hear me screaming from the stands like 99% of the ridiculous hockey moms in Omaha-ha-ha do at their little mites. Junior has a say in everything.

    Milf Junior will be a better man/student/athlete for what he has gone through–which ain’t much in the big scheme of things. I didn’t ship him off to Iraq or Afghanistan for Christ’s sakes.

    Oh, and he’ll score more on and off the ice as well.

  2. Milf……are you saying you get carried away?!?!?!?!?

  3. Milf City Cougars Bantam B2

    Good piece…but times have changed, sadly. We all get carried away sometimes, all of us. Don’t throw stones…

    It did bring back fond memories of better days…

  4. For the love of the game

    I really enjoyed the story. Thank you for posting it. I think the comments to this story only solidify why the merger actually passed. It was all about bringing the good kids from team together with the good kids from another team so they could have one really good team. I’m not saying this is a bad idea, but it’s obvious that the parents are not just “letting them play the game”. It might be more fun to play with other kids on the same skill level, but this merger idea was the parents idea, not the kids.

  5. Wooden Nickle

    Nice piece. Point well made

  6. Captain Obvious

    Princess, you know my Kryptonite. I’m like Homer Simpson with a doughnut and a Duff beer!

  7. Captain Obvious-Be Nice! Go have a burrito the size of your head (I know how you enjoy those) and settle down! 🙂

  8. Captain Obvious

    Hey Captain Anonymous… um what gives? Since there are only so many superhero names to go around, I think that you need at least a different rank. I would name you Private Anonymous, or if you wanted to stick with the navy ranks, maybe Seaman Anonymous… wow almost had a spelling issue there.

    Saving the world by stating the “Obvious.”

  9. Were going to give you that. Funny

  10. No offense to Rebel but this hockey crap is like a soap opera…lets call it “As the Bowel Moves”

  11. We will give her the message Flounder,she doesn’t get in till about noon.

  12. No problem at all. No need to pull anything except the pop-top of that beer you are going to pass me. We were talking about getting a beer, weren’t we?

  13. Sorry Flounder, I thought you were ripping the story. We thought it made a good statement.
    My bad…If you want me to pull the comments off I can.
    I just have a knack for throwing bait and hooking a nerve. Nothing personal.
    Let me know if you want me to clear the previous banter.
    Sorry to be such a bitch, Mongo posted his first contribution and were taking and more hits than normal so Im reviewing alot of comments.

    Rebel Shurburne

  14. Rebel… “intellect”? Honest…….I have no idea where you are coming from. I was trying to make a broad, light-hearted observation about taking anything to do with youth sports too serious and you chose to make reference to a serious comment I made under my real name (GWeiss)about the 9/11 article put on this website.

    Something tells me you have soemthing to say to me. Use non-public means if it would help you. Kisses.

  15. My point was I was sorry we posted a piece on here that wasn’t up to your intellect. We will try harder next time.

    Rebel Shurburne

  16. Rebel……what is your point?

  17. We just had it sent to us, thought it was a nice piece and shared it.
    Remeber you had a friend that thought the most important thing was scoring after the game as well…white colar crime wasn’t it ? (We have a great IT guy, names may change but IP’s don’t)
    Sorry if there was to much drama in it for you, next time we will run a piece from Vonnegut.

    Rebel Shurburne

  18. Nice walk down memory lane, but you miss the point. As the prophet Bill Murray said, “It is not important to score during the game. It is important to score after the game.”

    You are all drama queens. Pass me a beer.

  19. Can we get an Amen ?

    Well said..we are changing your name to the Reverend Captain Anonymous.

  20. Captain Anonymous

    To the “take it to the next level” parents – shame on you! Hide behind your anonymity, because you’d never back those words up in person. It’s really sad to see people like this, even more sad when I know what the adult outcome of those kids who were “pushed to the next level” is. Look at the Mav players, how many of them make the NHL? Hopefully all of them came here knowing that they had a chance, not that they already made it. Omaha and O.M.A.H.A. are way too small and new at this to realize the illusion. The illusion being that if you push your kids “to the next level” you don’t guarantee success, you don’t even give them a better shot at it. It is now, always has been and forever will be the internal drive of any player that determines whether they make it. Everyone one that ever made it had every bit of heart that the author of this story has, they also had god given abilities to compliment that heart.

    You “take it to the next level” parents may never realize that these things can’t be bought on your visa or mastercards, and that’s a shame. If you were able to witness the adult products of your parenting style, you’d do everything you could to go back in time and start over. For many of you it’s too late, be prepared to support those kids well into their 40’s, and have the Prozac ready. I know too many of them from my childhood, and the lives they touch don’t appreciate the values they were brought up with.

  21. We agree with you about Mike and we miss him at the rink as well.
    And I think the point the person who wrote that was trying to make about the work out facility’s was the parents lined up at the counter watching. If the kid wants to do it then by all means they should. It beasts the hell out of x box. But the parents should just let them do it not stand there and evaluate every move like so many do at the rink.
    Thanks for the input.

    Sparky Pine

  22. Very well written letter about the problem with both organized and school sports. Parents and overzealous coaches have taken the fun out of the game. The game no matter if it is hockey, football, baseball or softball, etc. Should be about having fun and staying fit, because how many kids move on to play college sports or even hit the big leagues (Remember, I know it is hard to believe they don’t just pick exclusivly from the Omaha area) if you wish to push and help your kids excel in life, push academics. I wish our kids could get back to the sandlot or pond hockey but,who can play a game of pick up ball or hockey in the neighborhoods anymore without the safety police shutting the game down because you may get hurt playing in the common area or worse arrested for trespassing in an area you pay taxes on (SID). I also believe it is the lack of outdoor activity that has created the fatty generation and not just sugary snacks (but thats another rant). I don’t have as much of a problem with having your kids work out because it does help reduce the injuries in the sport. The regarding team selection…..please it is not always the best kids picked, it is 9 times out of ten the kids whose parents hold the most weight in an organization or who takes the coach out for plenty of steak dinners. Forget your kid getting picked if you question the status quo. I am with the letter writer I would rather drop my kid off and leave or sit up in the stands away from the Stepford Wives and the Psycho Dads screaming for little johnny to show no mercy. This letter should be posted at every ball field, hockey rink and school gym. One final note-speaking of the few good coaches out there who is missed at the rink…Mike Vlassakis was and is a helluva coach. Thank you Mike for being a great influence in my childs hockey life. He truly has the best interest of his players in mind when he is coaching.

  23. Glad to see your still with us Mike.

    We have gotten an amazing amount of views on this. Glad they sent it to us, maybe it will hit home with a few people.

  24. This person hit a bulls – eye, well written, articulate and well intended.

  25. Absolutely not-in fact I think it makes you look too skinny!

  26. That’s hitting the nail on the head. Kind of like a 7th grader taking a pre-act test. WHAT?????
    Very well done Jenny Craig…see you at Weigh In’s tonight…..Does this make me look fat?

  27. Well written. But is hockey really any different than other sports, or school for that matter? Every week there are news stories about parents that went off the deep end at some sport or girls starving themselves because Mama wants them to be the captain of the cheerleading team or look better in their gymnastics uniform. It isn’t just limited to hockey, it is everything. Parents are just as bad about school-all the Baby Einstein products, summer school “for the fun of it”, tutors to prep for the ACTs, etc. Kids are not allowed the experience of being a kid; they have to have their whole life planned for them. Entrance exams for “select” pre-schools. And to what end? They blow an elbow or knee and there goes all the hopes that were pinned since age 5 on the sport scholarship; or they crack from the pressure and flunk out of the college they have been pushed and pushed into since kindergarten to get perfect grades so they could attend.
    Parents do not even let kids settle their own differences and learn to handle rejection any longer. If you don’t make a team it isn’t because the other kids skated harder or that you need to work harder, it is because it is “fixed”, and if there is a problem with another student there is no more letting kids work it out-suddenly you have a restraining order and court mandated counseling. Can you imagine Beaver’s dad saying “well Son, I was going to take you out back and teach you to box to defend yourself, but instead let’s hop in the car and file for a protection order”.
    Kids learn a lot just from the ups & downs and being a kid, even if it means they fail, get dirty, aren’t picked first, or eat a bug along the way. Being a parent means allowing them the freedom to figure it out and to support what makes them happy whether that is a 8 hour car ride in the winter to go play travel hockey, playing house just to have fun, or deciding not to play sports at all.

  28. The name was withheld so we won’t say out of respect for them. If they give us the ok we will post the author.

  29. Who did write it?
    I liked it and so did the people I sent it to.

  30. It’s not even the pervs in the park. Remember just getting together in a vacant lot to play ball? Now nobody has time. To busy going to batting cages, clinics, out of town games. We thought about this all day, what happened to playing a game just for the hell of it.
    Even the Pond Hockey program this summer had parents trying to coach their kids. Wonder what would happen if a bunch of parents started a chat at the rink aimed at all the assistant coaches lined up on the glass..”JUST LET THEM PLAY JUST LET THEM PLAY…” Never happen but it would be funny.

    As far as who wrote this, our I-T guy figured it out late this morning and was very surprised. We didn’t know the guy could type let alone write. That was a joke for thoes of you who have never seen or heard one before. He did a nice job. Even if you don’t agree it had to make you think.

  31. Oh, I think you would be surprised at who wrote this.

  32. Captian Obvious

    This guy got it right! I remember when we could go to the park on a summer day with a nothing but a baseball glove and find a great pickup game of baseball. Why? Because it is fun. We loved it. Can’t do that today. Parks are full of pervs (or worse, senators).

  33. This must be the spokesman for “Live your life thru your kids”

    Hey buddy, lay off the diet pills. They are making you way to cranky.

  34. What a bunch of crap. Who wrote this, some soccer player.
    If you dont push them they will neverexcell. They have fun.
    The only people that complain about it are the ones whos kids cant do it.

  35. This story is right on the money.
    Nice blog your other items are very funny.

  36. Sparky just yelled over the cube farm “I bet this is the guy that yells HURT EM HURT EM.

    Maybe we should put together a flyer on some new bullshit training idea and see how many of these people would sign up for it. Stiffy Woodcocks Hockey Gym and training facility. Take your kid to another level. I think it ends up working out to be Chapter 7 in the training manual.
    Maybe Im being to cynical because I dont have a kid playing in the sport myself but I see it in other sports. Year round baseball, give me a break.
    Better sign my tag name so I can catch the backlash for that.

    Timothy Colecreek

  37. Well, you were right EOO…we have our first bitcher. Mav Fan 1’s kid must be on his way to the NHL. Spend that money!!!!

  38. Mav Fan Needs Help

    Mav Fan, After reading that did you look in the mirror and do a “You talking to me”.

  39. One of the most overworked cliche’s in sports. Lift it to another level.
    We think the writter was trying to say that even without all the techno stuff, he learned to just love playing the game. Many parents push their kids into playing and “taking it to another level.” Only to have the kid start hating it because it became work, not fun, and then quiting later in life and never putting his skates on again.
    Let your mind go to another level Mav Fan 1. That is the level of “Let them be children. It is supposed to be fun”

  40. Whats wrong with the indoor workout facility. Is it so bad that as a parent you try and help your kid lift his game to another level? This must of been written by someone who’s kid is always the last one picked in gym class. Boo Hoo Hoo.Suck it up.

  41. A few parents over our way need to see that. Thanks Omaha.

  42. So true So true. I would love to see that as a motto of all youth sports. Just let them play!!!
    Who wrote that? I am sending it to everyone with a kid in sports that I know.

  43. We will try to keep up on the comments posted about this. The hits on this post are going through the roof right now and we have to read each comment and ok it.
    Thank you everyone. We were surprised when it was in the email basket this morning. It even made a few of us sit back and think.

  44. I try to ignore the hockey BS on here but that one I couldn’t stop reading. This guy should give a class on this to all the nut jobs that spend countless hours berating their rug rats into doing something because they want them to.
    Remember sandlot baseball. You know why you never see kids playing it anymore. THere is no glory in it for the parents.
    Thanks you guys.

  45. Everyone in our office is reading this and only one has a child in hockey.
    Thanks for putting this out there. It can go for any sport.

  46. A friend sent me the link to this. It made me cry. Everyone has been around the parent that pushes thier little ones too much and we just think to ourselves, what jerks.
    Just let them play. I love it. That should be the new catch phrase around the rink.

  47. WOW That should be required reading for all parents except I doubt it would sink in with some.

  48. AMEN AND THEN SOME……now if these parents will just stop and think, “Gee, is this talking about ME????????????”

  49. This is so important for us crazy hockey parents to hear! Thanks for the insight! I used to have 2 hockey players – we have been in both organizations. My son that would be a bantam this year has quit the sport altogether due to a miserable experience last year. After reading all this about the bantams this year – I am happy he isn’t involved! We need to give the sport back to the kids!

  50. We thought so as well. It kinda put things in perspective.
    Now wait, someone will bitch or try and pick it apart.

  51. That was excellent!

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