I've been involved with Youth Sports, mostly Football, Hockey and Baseball for over 40 years. My first experience dates back to playing Mite Hockey as a Kindergartner. The first team I played on, the WESAC Yellow, lost every game by at least 10 goals. We played every game outside and we froze our butts off. I didn't care, I was the youngest of five and this was my turn to play instead of watch. My older brothers would come and watch every game and cheer as if it were the Stanley Cup. It was on that rink that I got hooked on sports. I played every sport I could sign up for and attended any and every kind of sporting event that was organized.
After my playing days were over, I decided to "help out" the local sports associations as an assistant Coach. It was there that I first saw the uglier side of youth sports. I coached a Mite hockey team that had been split into two "even" teams. What I didn't know was my team was the team with the perceived "cool dad" and all of the "cool kids" (note: the "cool dad" was the guy who asked me to help him out). Before we hit the ice for the first time, a mom from the other team approached me to help tie her son's skates. Having had my skates tied over 100 times by neighborhood legend Darrell Grewe, I figured it was my turn to give back. What I didn't realize was this woman was setting me up to sit still while I tied her son's skates. For five minutes she oozed out an ugly side of humanity into my ear about how unfair it was that her son was cut to the "lower team", her son works hard, and they are considering taking action against the association. I just remember thinking how crazy this woman was to be so passionate about her seven year old son and his hockey. I thought to myself, "I will never be like that woman."
Fast forward twenty years, almost to the day. My son did not make the team that he wanted to make for this Winter. Not the first time in his life and hopefully not the last. You see if he chooses to quit playing sports, it will be his last. If he chooses to keep playing, at some point he will get cut again or retire.
Being involved in sports as a coach, volunteer, and now a writer really helped me focus on what was most important...the child. Not the "politics" of the association. And especially not the coach who "cut" him. What needs to be understood by all parents of bubble players is simple. If your son or daughter is a bubble player they have three choices to avoid it: get much better, quit or deal with it. A harsh reality, but it is a microcosm of life. If he or she wants to get into Harvard, they'd better have good grades. If they want to get into Juilliard, they better practice their instrument. Hockey is no different. The top ten kids are easy to spot, around the rink they are called "locks". The next ten are the bubble kids, five make it and five don't. The math is pretty simple, if you want to avoid getting cut, the player needs to get much better to become a lock.