Goalie Parents! What’s Your Position?

by Sharon Enck aka PuckGal

Not too long ago, I ran across a discussion on Facebook about a goalie parent’s favorite spot to watch during a game. Most of the answers indicated that the parent would station themselves alone, behind whatever goal their son/daughter was playing in. I couldn’t have disagreed more and was the only one who took such a stance, but it wasn’t always that way. I used to be those parents.

I was the crazy goalie mom . . .

 When my daughter first started playing, I too would sit by myself and “follow” her from net to net. Biting my nails, muttering underneath my breath and throwing my head back in exasperation (or exaltation depending on the play), I was the crazy goalie mom. It became clear to me how off-kilter the whole thing was. By me analyzing every move she made up close and personal it was not only distracting me, but her as well. At the time she hadn’t learned what “focus” meant, so she would find me visually.

It helped that right after she began her first mite travel year I became friends with the other parents. Bonded by countless losses and being outplayed every game, our little group banded together. Much like the reality TV show “Survivor,” we formed alliances, coached each other through the losses and burned other teams’ jerseys for warmth . . . OK, just kidding on the burning jerseys part but you get the idea.

As a result, I was no longer “following” her around, distracting her or making myself crazy over each play. By joining them during games, I was sending the signal that we were part of the team. I wasn’t just the goalie’s mom in the corner. I cheered for their kids, bemoaned the tough breaks and jokingly commented when my goalie had a tough day.

It’s never easy to hear someone say that your kid sucks.

Some of the parents on the Facebook discussion did ask about comments made on my daughter’s performance. Are there comments? Sure. Sometimes I’ll hear a few things when she has a tough game or lets one of those dribblers in. You know, the ones that just sliiiiiide on in while she watches over her shoulder. And no, it’s never easy to hear someone say that your kid sucks, needs to be pulled or shouldn’t be on the team.

Does it really matter though? No.

Most hockey parents understand, and those comments are far and few between. Most know what it takes to win or lose a game, and that’s a team. When you cheer with them, commiserate with them and let them get to know you, your kid, it’s a lot tougher to criticize the goalie’s every move. Teach them the finer points of being a goalie and a goalie parent. The sweetest words I have heard to date? “I didn’t really know how you felt until my son became a goalie.”

You may be thinking your parents are different, inexperienced, don’t get it or are just plain mean spirited. Are there going to be those types of parents? Yes, you will probably encounter several throughout your kid’s hockey career. The good news is that the inexperienced ones will soon learn and the rude ones will just go way. Just like all the other negativity in your life, the goal—pun intended—is to not let it get to you. Hang out with the parents who get it, the ones willing to help you mutter underneath your breath and watch you throw your head back in exasperation or exaltation. They are out there, trust me.

And they will support your goalie, good games and bad.

What is your position? Where to like to watch games and why? I want to hear from you.

Sharon Enck, (aka PuckGal) lives and breathes hockey in, of all places, Phoenix, AZ. She has covered the Phoenix Coyotes for several years and her blog, “Covering the Five Hole”, is dedicated to the antics of her goalie daughter, McKenna, and anything related to being a hockey mom. The surly in Surly Gurl Media, Sharon is also a freelance writer and social media manager. Visit Sharon and McKenna at her blog site, PuckGal, and she can be reached at PuckGal@gmail.com.