"I'm a lousy goalie!"
Those were my 7-year-old lad's first tear-filled words after a recent 8-1 thumping in his Minor Novice Select game. Select hockey is a definite step up from House League competition. Last season, Theo basically fell into being a goalie; donning the pads in a late-season Tyke House League game and riding a wave all the way to the championship.
Fast-forward to this season, however, and it's been a different story. Some of these 7-year-old Select players can really shoot; probably because some of them look like they should already be shaving.
Some of these "little" guys are big and when there's lots of rubber coming your way, the ol' goals against average is guaranteed to take a royal beating.
But it's not just the tiny goalie's confidence that takes a hit. As the red light heats up, mom and dad suffer from feelings of guilt up in the stands too.
"Ah, he should have stopped that one!"
"Maybe we should have spent the money for those extra goalie lessons.
"Why the heck did we let him become a goalie in the first place?"
Our fellow parents also chip in with a few comments.
"He almost had that one!"
"Has Theo ever gone to goalie school?"
"So, how does he enjoy being a goalie anyway?," a question that inevitably comes our way after the seventh or eighth puck gets by the poor little guy.
Unfortunately, every mistake between the pipes is magnified and a goalie sticks out like a sore thumb. It's the same with the goalie's parents. When the scoreboard starts to explode, you feel as if all the other mom's and dad's are glaring at you with their best John Tortorella death stare asking "Can we get a #@%^& save?"
Of course, it's not like that at all, as the parents, coaches and kids have been very positive about Theo's play, praising his saves and encouraging him whenever a puck gets past him.
Back in the dressing room, though, Theo's tears are just about ready to really start flowing.
"Bud," I whisper, "When Dad was a goalie, I let in 17 goals in a game a couple of times."
A sad, but true story.
Yes, I was once a goalie myself and hearing about my struggles definitely perked Theo up.
It was on to the next game and this time, Theo was completely dialed in. His team lost 5-2, but it could have been a lot worse if he hadn't come up with some huge saves.
"That was his best game of the year!," a bunch of parents enthused.
A good confidence boost for the little guy and, I admit, it felt pretty good to mom and dad as well.
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