Wow, is it March already? As the hockey season begins to wind down and many start looking toward their spring and summer sports of choice (hello lacrosse and baseball!), many coaches, parents and players take the time to reflect on all that they’ve learned in 2017-18.
Here are a few ways we hope you’ve grown as a player, and as person this year. Share your own personal lessons learned by tweeting @mass_hockey using hashtag #massproudlessons
1. How to be a team player. No matter the age, no matter the level, teamwork — from tape-to-tape passes, to celebrating a linemate’s goal, to holding the dressing room door for a teammate — is the heart and soul of hockey. Note: It also comes in pretty handy throughout life, too.
2. Trying is better than not. Knowing you made the effort — to play, to participate, to experience the fast-paced, no-substitute-for-it speed of this great game — makes each practice and game worthwhile. Particularly for coaches who won't shorten the bench!
3. Failure is just fine. Very few sports traffic in failure the way hockey does. Pucks don’t always behave the way you’d like. Skating, let alone handling the puck at the same time, can be just plain hard. But getting even a little bit better every time out is success enough.
4. Patience is a virtue. Hey, hockey in general can be hard (see #3). Practicing patience — patience when you skate the puck, when you enter the offensive zone, when you decide to take the puck into traffic or set yourself to take a perfect shot — will pay off in the form of teaching the art of patience for a lifetime. There's no need to panic with the puck!
5. I can make a play. When you’re faced with the choice in the defensive zone of winging it around the glass or making a play with the puck … make a play. When you’re faced with the choice near the offensive zone of dumping the puck or making a play with it … make a play.
6. We love small area games. If you’ve been following along in this space all year, you know the players and coaches we talk to believe in small-area games. And if you’ve spent some time getting more touches, making more decisions, thinking quicker and learning more about the game and yourself in the process, you’re probably a convert.
7. These are lifelong memories. Young players may not realize it now, but their teammates and the good times they share today will become the great memories of their adulthood.
8. Hard work will be rewarded. The gift of talent is great and all, but very few players can realize their potential without working harder than everyone else. Shooting pucks in the driveway; stickhandling in the basement; extra skating at every opportunity. This is as true at the younger ages as it is for Bobby Butler, whose hard work on perceived weaknesses has paid off with a career in hockey – including a recent and unforgettable appearance on the Olympic team in South Korea.
9. Gold is good! So many of us were inspired by Team USA’s golden shootout win over rival Canada, and there are few feelings in the world as good as singing the national anthem with your teammates. If you were inspired by the likes of Mass natives Kacey Bellamy, Kali Flanagan and captain Meghan Duggan, you aren’t alone.
10. Oh! And that I should say thank you. Thank you, moms and dads, families and fans, coaches and volunteers, rink operators and zamboni drivers, snack bar and pros shop folks. Hockey is a family, and it extends far beyond the dressing room and the bench.