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Mom Mondays: We don’t need another trophy

Season-end hockey gifts are fun, but how much do they matter to the youngsters who love and play the game?

It’s no secret that hockey moms are very busy.

All season long, we’ve managed to get our kids to the rinks on time, hopefully with all the right gear. Maybe we even got them to school on time, with lunches packed, wearing clean clothes, and with all their school forms signed.

Then maybe we got ourselves to work on time, with our own lunches packed, and possibly wearing clean clothes too. But that’s not important! What IS important is that we got our kids to hockey on time! And along the way, we also had a fair bit of fun at all the hockey parties and tournaments we’ve attended.

The year-end hockey party is one of those fun hockey parties. It’s a bit more significant of course because it marks the end the yet another hockey season. It’s exciting to know that the frenzy will soon be in hiatus (though not for those hockey moms whose kids play year-round).

If you read my post on this, you know there is much to look forward to in the off-season. It can also be bittersweet; since you may not see some of the people you’ve been socializing with pretty solidly for the past eight months for the entire summer.

If you’re like me, you’re not only a busy hockey mom, you’re also the busy hockey mom who organizes the year-end party or parties.

With each year our family has spent in hockey, the challenge grows to find something new and exciting to do as a year-end team event. Paintball, mini-putt, laser tag, golf, pool, family shinny, and house parties - we’ve done them all over the past 14 years.

Aside from the activity (because who wants a team of 12-year-olds running around their house without purpose?), there is the whole business of year-end gifts for the team.

We have almost an entire shelving unit housing all the trophies that our players have accumulated over their minor hockey careers. If you’re one of those hockey mom / team managers angsting over what year-end gifts to get your players, maybe I can save you some time: forget the trophies!

They might be excited about them in their first few years of hockey, but after that they will languish in their closet collecting dust, or provide you with a painful reminder of their existence when you stub your toe on one collecting their dirty laundry basket.

I recently asked my sons what were some of their more memorable year-end hockey gifts, and their answer? “We got hockey gifts?” None were in any way memorable. Which is kind of sad considering the time and effort involved in buying them in the first place (my apologies to all those who organized those for my kids!).

What they do remember were the words of their coaches in the big year-end speech. Those messages of inspiration and encouragement lingered far longer than the token hockey mat.

All kids are different, though. My daughter has strong opinions on year-end gifts and is very happy offering suggestions on what would be appropriate to summarize her hockey season. I presume she’s providing these recommendation on behalf of her teammates but I’m can’t be sure.

Yes, year-end gifts in our girls’ hockey experience has ranged from sweatshirts, t-shirts, pajama bottoms, ball caps, hockey towels, toiletry bags, beach bags, water bottles, head bands – all logoed of course. Once again, trophies are out.

To some, this might sound a little selfish and commercial; but the truth is, some years the hockey budget is pretty dried up by the time the season ends, leaving little funds available for social events and gifts. Some parents prefer to see the hockey budget devoted to on-ice development rather than off-ice fun, but I also always try to keep some funds in the budget for the year-end event and/or gifts.

For a very tiny percentage of minor hockey players, the season was just one in a long journey to the NHL. For most though, while still a passion, it is ultimately a pastime. The year-end gift is symbolic of just that … and hopefully that triggers happy memories of an awesome hockey season.

And if no gift is possible, the words of the coach directed at your player are as important, and hopefully also triggers happy memories of an awesome hockey season.

So on that note: three cheers for this year’s logoed beach bags – and the awesome season they represented.

Tags: minor hockey

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