The Devil and her team had an excellent outing the night before last in which they earned a 3-1 victory. Then again tonight they came out strong and played three good periods of hockey in a 0-0 tie against an important rival; a team they lost to the last time they played. Their early season record sits at 2-1-2. I am told the coach delivered a focused message about playing aggressively and being the first to the puck before the last victory. They have since been all that and then some. The girls are beating the other team to the puck, winning the battles on the boards and getting more shots on net.
The Devil for her part was coming off a couple of lack-lustre performances leaving many, including yours truly, wondering why she was not playing up to her potential. This season we have seen flashes of speed, but they have been relatively scarce. She has been making good plays/passes with the puck. She has scored a few goals. However, hockey mom, I and a few other observers who have seen her play in the years past, know she has more to offer. Whether it was the coach’s speech or mom/dad’s pre- and post-game exhortations; something appears to have sunken in. She, like her teammates, has picked up the pace. She’s skating harder; particularly on the back-check, which really tells you how much more committed she is.
As a hockey parent, who puts time and a few bucks up for the kids to play, you really want to see them give their best effort. There are generally extenuating circumstances. Mood swings are not uncommon with pubescent teenagers; boys and girls alike; so we always need to keep that in mind. At the same time, we can appeal to their understanding of the importance of commitment. personal growth and teamwork. They get it. Sometimes it’s just the who and the how the message is delivered. As parents/coaches we don our psychologist hats, try a variety of approaches depending on the personality we’re dealing with then hope for the best.
Whatever’s caused the recent change, the effect is welcomed by those who understand the ability and potential of the player and the team. Another lull can/will undoubtedly come as it does with all players/teams, but now we can all reflect back to the last couple of games. We can offer the reminder of what we know is possible. Then we can hope the message resonates again to affect the desired response. We know ya can do, so just do it! Oh that it were that easy. Games are lost and won as much between the ears as they are on the ice. So we’ll continue to work in both places hoping for positive results.