I’m at Stanley’s right now. It’s a bar that sits high above three of the four rinks at Sharks Ice, where as you might guess the local NHL team would be practicing right now were it not busy not playing.
I came here to get some writing done, but that’s proven difficult. Below me the ice is filled with tykes in hockey gear, skating, falling, getting back up, and moving pucks around. It’s awesome!
Truth be told, those six-year-olds are better hockey players than I am. There’s an odd combination of clumsiness and grace, where a kid will lose the puck, spin, reach and collect the puck, and once on his way again fall over for no reason. Right now the bunch of kids directly below where I sit is running a drill that involves carrying the puck around obstacles, turning back and putting a shot on goal. The coaches provide very light resistance to those ready for it. One kid put a shot on goal, the coach deflected it, and that kid dove after the rebound like it was game seven of the Stanley Cup. Get that kid’s number — he’s going places!
A whistle just blew four times, and all the kids shifted to the next station. There’s a new guy below me who may be the smallest dude on the ice (assuming it’s not a dudette — no telling with all that gear). He is not graceful with the puck. But here’s the thing — Little Guy falls down a lot, but he gets back up. This is probably the best lesson Pee Wee Hockey teaches a kid. (As I typed that he had a harder time than usual getting up, and a coach came over and helped him until he was steady over his skates. His shot went just wide of the goal, which bummed me.)
But back to the falling down/getting up thing. I’m not a parent, but if I were I think this is a lesson I’d want to teach my kids. For my hypothetical daughters soccer would be an option (those kids are tough), but for the boys there’s no alternative at that age. Honestly, I’d prefer that my daughters played hockey as well; it’s safer. And none of the alternatives have ice. You might get knocked down in soccer, but in hockey you will fall, without any help from anyone, over and over. There’s no making excuses, no blaming someone else. Nothing to do but get back up. You’ll fall again, but that’s all right. You’ll get up again. That’s what I’d want my kids to learn.