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Growing Up Hockey!

GROWING UP HOCKEY!

By Jeff Serowik PRO AMBITIONS HOCKEY, INC.

December 2004

Hi Parents and Players!

I hope your current season is huge success with lots of your pucks finding their way into those other goalies’ nets!

After completing a busy summer with over 2000 campers and talking with many of the parents; it dawned on me how passionate we all are about this game. We all get affected by the emotional ups and downs that come with winning, loosing, and with team selection and placement.

I want to share some thoughts and a few helpful tips on this crazy game. These were integral parts of my development as a player and person. I hope they will help you as hockey parents. I suggest sharing this with your son/daughter.

It was not just talent that enabled me to play hockey at a prep school, in college, and for the pros. There is a lot more to the recipe of building a successful athlete. Here’s some of it:

Embedded Work Ethic: Discipline and a sense of responsibility are vital in anything you do in life. Kids need responsibilities outside of hockey that will help them throughout their lives. There was not a day growing up that I didn’t have at least a half-hour of chores to do around my house. It wasn’t an option, – whether it was stacking a cord of wood, cooking dinner, washing the dishes, cleaning my room, or sweeping out the garage. My parents both worked. If I wanted to play the game I loved, I had to carry my share of the family load. I also worked full time in the summers from age fourteen. My dad always taught me to look in the mirror at the end of the day knowing I did everything I could do to improve, both as a person, and as an athlete.

Learning: Hockey is much more than skating skills and brute force. It’s a constant learning process. Emphasize education with your kids, so if they are someday drafted into the NHL, they’ll have a solid education to deal with that high-pressure life. And they’ll also need a solid education to have a worthwhile life after the NHL. And if the NHL isn’t in your kid’s future, – that good education will help him/her buy NHL tickets. I am pleasantly surprised how well my campers are doing in school. This is a testament to the values instilled by their parents. Kids also need to be “students of the game”. I used to study Bruins games. I focused on every shift of my favorite player, Ray Bourque. I’d analyze every shift he played and I tried to emulate his moves, his demeanor, and his calmness in my own game. I learned a lot just by watching him. Brains win games!

Persevering: My folks said if I wanted to start something, whether it was sports or Cub Scouts, I was to give it everything I had. They always taught me to be my own person, an independent thinker, to not simply follow the pied piper. And they insisted that once I started something I had to finish it! If I wasn’t happy on a particular team or in my class at school, they wouldn’t pull me out and take me to another program. I had to figure out a way to get through that situation, whether it was communicating with the coach or the teacher, or to work my way through it with extra help or extra work off the ice. They were really preparing me for adult life.

Support: My immediate family, my parents then, – and now my wife and my kids, were and are my biggest supporters through thick and thin. Growing up I was a good hockey player, but not great one, – so I had many hurdles to overcome. I worked hard for every break I ever got in this game on and off ice. I remember the discouragement of not making the A team or not making the USA Select teams. I remember not being named the captain, and not being invited over the most popular kid’s house for a sleep over. Today as I watch young players with their parents, I still quietly thank my folks for helping me deal with those disappointments. Thanks Mom, – Thanks Dad!

Adversity: If hockey were an easy game, everybody would play it, – and no one would bother to watch. But it’s a tough game about overcoming adversity. You make your own breaks, so when something goes wrong, – take the blame and find a way to fix it. Even in the pros, there are some players who are quick to blame their line mates, their coach, or whoever is handy for their own failures. They should look in a mirror. Players need to learn to “own it”. This means accepting a mistake, learning from it, and being a better person because of it.

I was always marveled at how well Ray Bourque bounced back from mistakes. Yes, even one of the greatest defenseman made his share of mistakes. It’s how he reacted to the mistakes, how he recovered, and didn’t let it happen again, that made him such a great player. He never lost confidence in his ability. He always wanted the puck after he made a mistake. He wanted to make up for it, and he always did.

When someone beats you 1-to-1 and they score on you, don’t bang your stick and show weakness. Skate smartly back to the face-off circle like nothing happened and tell yourself there is nothing you can do to bring back that mistake. But you can finish a great shift. Let’s get real; – you just got scored on. Big deal! Someone just gave you a free hockey lesson! Figure out how they did it and go do it to their goalie.

Appreciation: Learn to enjoy this wonderful game on and off the ice. In my hockey career I have met so many great fans, teammates, coaches, parents and campers. It’s really all of these people who give me my greatest memories at the end of the day. So get to know your teammates and their folks. Show genuine interest in them. After all you spend the greater portion of seven months with them. Thank your coaches, your teachers, and above all your parents. Let them know that you understand and appreciate the tremendous financial sacrifice and the huge investment of their lives they are making to let you enjoy this great game.

Please e-mail me anytime with questions or comments. Hope to see you at a camp soon!

Jeff Serowik, President
Pro Ambitions Hockey, Inc.
PO Box 565 Dover, MA 02030
508 497-1089