Save The Dramas For The Other Mamas


Have you ever been part of a team where a vocal minority of disgruntled parents emerge to lead a revolution against the status quo? Can I hear a great big "ugh?" When parental politics makes its way to the forefront, it can suck the fun right out of the season. You win as a team, you lose as a team, and politics can destroy a team.

A few years back, we had the unfortunate experience of a great divide in a preseason battle over who should coach our team. Two very good, but stylistically very different, coaches wanted the head spot for the travel team. Rather than stand behind the choice made, a few parents left the organization. There were also a few who found every opportunity to criticize the coach who did get the nod.

Lines were drawn. Battles were fought. At times it got nasty. I give credit to the kids. They did everything the coach asked, and never complained. It wasn't about them and they "got it."

When parental politics make their way to the forefront, it can suck the fun right out of a season.

While we all may have our own ideas as to how to put together line combinations, power play units, dole out ice time, or which systems to run, issues can certainly arise when certain parents start vocalizing these ideas.

One way to avoid drama is to know what you're there for. Prior to the season do your homework and ask plenty of questions to make sure the coach, the team and the association suit your expectations.

When things get heated, perhaps a bit of physical and emotional distancing is in order.  That's why you'll often find Syracuse, N.Y., hockey mom Traci McLaughlin in a corner of the rink standing alone with her camera.  

"I don't engage," McLaughlin says. "Getting involved with that stuff can have a negative trickle-down effect for the player and I wouldn't want my behavior to negatively impact his options."

Once a parent has the coach's ear, watch out, cautions Syracuse University women's hockey coach Paul Flanagan. 

"The next step is that parent is perceived as making decisions for the team and that can be an ugly scenario."

Gossip and tension are bound to crop up during any hockey season. Just remember it's not the trophies, or win/loss count that ultimately matter. While you may have your opinions of how things should run, what lines should play - or any other thing under the sun - understand the good of the team is what really matters. 

Sometimes it's better to simply distance yourself (we're all getting pretty good at that now) from the angry mob and leave the drama for the other mamas.


Christie Casciano Burns is a hockey mom from Syracuse, N.Y., and the author of My Kids Play Hockey, available on Amazon.




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