It’s late September, your kids’ teams are set, Coach’s welcome email received, and league play is about to get under way. There is still one significant hockey activity that needs to be organized: the team icebreaker party. To me, this event is the real home opener.
Whether you’re a rookie hockey mom or a seasoned veteran, this party is not to be missed. You’re about to meet your hockey family – the people you’ll be spending more time with over the next six months than your real family.
There are definite do’s and don’ts for these parties… You do offer up your home as the venue at least once in your hockey mom career (unless you’ve just given birth or are the all-too-proud owner of seventeen stray cats), you do offer to bring food (no one cares that you can’t cook, you can find your way in and out of a grocery store), and you do plan to attend (because your child should meet their hockey family too!). You don’t plop yourself in the family room watching TV (it's on Netflix anyway, right?), you don’t take this opportunity to complain to the coach (no one cares that that your child’s cut from the competitive team was due to back-stabbing hockey politics), you don’t ask the hostess where she keeps the good china and silver (it’s time you learned to drink your wine out of plastic glass like the rest of us!), and you don’t get so drunk that first responders are invited to the party (just trust me on that one).
There is, however, one very serious agenda item at these parties. As the players are sent downstairs or outside to gel over a riveting game of Two Truths and a Lie, the parents convene in the kitchen for the Parent Meeting. Sure, this meeting interrupts your hockey mom tête-à-têtes, but the coach has some serious season business to cover off and you seriously need to listen up. The coach will probably go over his or her coaching philosophy, the schedule, attendance, tournaments, the team budget, fundraising, requests for volunteers (manager, assistant coaches, trainers, etc.), police record checks and Respect in Sport requirements, medical forms and issues, cell phone protocol, dressing room rules, how best to contact him or her, jerseys and jersey numbers. This is your opportunity to speak up. If something in the Parent Meeting raises your wrath, now’s the time to mention it, not when you decide you don’t feel like selling cookie dough or are furious you were scheduled for Den Mom duty on your birthday. This coach is about to spend countless hours over the next six months ensuring the season is a success. Success starts with the Parents Meeting.
For all the fun involved in the first social get together of the season, please realize that the foundation of the fun season ahead is laid during the Parent Meeting. Don’t underestimate it, and don’t dismiss it. And for God’s sake, wear your nametag!
Three cheers for the new hockey season – remember your party protocol!
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