Back Behind A Girls Hockey Bench

Da Boy has reached the end of his minor hockey career, but the Devil is still going strong with four-day trip to the Provincial Championships coming up next week in the Nation’s capital.  A couple of  nights ago we we drove an hour for a warm-up exhibition game against a team the ladies are schedule to be facing in the round-robin portion of those same championships. And the Devil had a pretty good showing with two markers, one of which was a particularly dirty little shot off the glove-side post after she froze the keeper on a 2 on 1 rush. She unmodestly patted herself on the back for that one as we climbed into the van for the ride home. Then she trumpeted about it again to her brother when we arrived home. So there’s still some hockey to be played and watched.

However, my focus is already slightly beyond next weekend as I found out a few weeks ago my application for coaching next season’s Midget 2 girls team was accepted and approved. The process involved the submission of an application/coaching resume followed by a 1/2 hour interview with the selection committee; a semi-grilling I had gone through on a few other occasions in the past. I was hopeful of being selected as I’ve come to miss the behind the scenes experience and player interaction I gained a fond appreciation for as the head coach two years ago. Watching and cheering in the stands is great, but being on the bench really puts you into the game.  But before any of the fun practice, game and interaction stuff can start, there will be a week or so worth of hell called the tryout process. Yup, there is little to no rest from one team or season to the next as the tryouts start literally days after the provincial end. And any coach would or should tell you tryouts, or more specifically cuts, are the worst part of the job. Having followed the Devil’s team all year and having a pretty good sense already of who will be competing to play on next year’s squad, I know there will be several tough decisions and a few feelings hurt….there’s really no way around it when you’re talking about rejecting a 15, 16, 17 or 18 year old girl – some of which will be current teammates and/or friends of your own kid.  I know all too well from having to be the hatchet man two seasons ago.  The last few cuts are always the toughest as there is generally very little to differentiate between the skills of one player or another. Rather it might come down to character, the need to fill a particular role on the team or simply gut instinct. Regardless, you almost always find yourself second-guessing and over-analyzing to make sure you’ve made the “right” choices. Luckily, I will have some qualified friends to guide me as non-invested, unbiased evaluators.  So while I’m looking forward to coaching again, I’d be fine to just have a team chosen for me and forego the whole selection process.  Then, of course, I’d hardly be able to take on the responsibility of calling it “my” team so I’ll just have to suffer through.

I suppose one of the only silver linings is this will be the first year in many Momma and I don’t have to go through the whole ordeal from the other side of the glass. No more tryouts for da Boy, of course, and I can fairly confidently say the Devil should be safe to make my team. That’s not to say she doesn’t have to give it her all on the tryout ice, cuz  she does need to help me prove she and I deserve to be at the level and on the team I’ve been given the opportunity to coach.

I’ll definitely take time to enjoy the championship hockey this coming weekend (my last as just a hockey dad for a while) with an eye in the back of my mind on the nerve-wracking and most likely sleepless week to follow.


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