Rolling With The Changes Part Of The Hockey Journey

REO Speedwagon was one of my favorite bands growing up and created a number of songs that became part of the soundtrack of my youth.

One song in particular, "Roll With The Changes," still holds a special place in my heart, especially as I watch my daughter, Sophia, continue on with her hockey journey. 

While some players are fortunate enough to play their entire careers in the same association or with the same group of friends, for others the only constant is change.

It seems that my family is not alone when it comes rolling with the changes. I recently received an email from a reader asking for tips on dealing with change and finding a pain-free way to transition your child to a new team.

The apple didn't fall far from the tree when the opportunity for my daughter came to try out for a varsity high school hockey team. It's the only girls' high school hockey team in our county, which meant playing for a district that's a rival school in other sports. 

She was anxious, nervous, and full of self-doubt. There were new faces and new coaches, a new rink and new rules to follow. 

A funny thing happened on the way to an emotional breakdown. It turned out my daughter's new teammates were very welcoming and encouraging, melting away all that anxiety and planting the seeds for sisterhood. 

That led me to wonder how others deal with the constant changes thrown our way as hockey players and parents.

To help ease concerns, Baldwinsville, N.Y., hockey coach Steve Ragan invites new players and parents for a quick chat. He even hosts team BBQs for families, team fundraising events and maintains an open-door policy. 

"I inform them that there is a long curve they are facing before they get comfortable or start to process the game at the necessary speed to be competitive," Ragan said. "I implore them not to get discouraged and to stick with the process."

Syracuse Blazers Coach Matthew Darois advises parents not project their fears about skill levels and playing time on their sons and daughters.

"At the end of the day, no matter what new team you're joining, it's full of hockey people, the best people on earth," he said. "Tell them to play hard with a big smile on their face and relax."

Vernon Hills (Ill.) Ice Dogs hockey mom, Caryn Skomer Hammond, says her entire social life tends to revolve around other hockey parents, so joining a new team can be daunting for parents, too. 

"I have mourned the loss of some teams whose parents I have come to love like family," Skomer said. "Fortunately, we seem to run into each other at rinks and tournaments throughout the season."

Neillsville, Wis., mom Jen Berg's daughter worked hard, put her hand out during practice and introduced herself right away. Soon, it was as if she had been playing with the team since Mites. 

"As a parent it was a bit rougher getting to know the hierarchy, if you will, of a new team," she said. "I was team manager previously and was used to knowing everything. I sat back and watched for the few weeks to figure out the circles and eventually just stuck my hand out, too."

As for my daughter's first year with her Skaneateles Varsity High School hockey team? Everything just clicked and they finished the season with a perfect 19-0 mark. 

As the boys from REO sang, "If you're tired of the same old story, turn some pages. I will be here when you are ready, to roll with the changes."




Who is your favorite 2023/2024 NHL Rookie?
Connor Bedard
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Brock Faber
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Logan Cooley
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