No Matter What You May Think You Know, Ask A Lot Of Questions

After landing my first job as a television news reporter, it wasn't long before I was called into my news director's office. A manager with plenty of news-know-how, he wasn't thrilled with one of my reports. He felt I had failed to ask the questions that would have given better context to the story. My defense was perhaps more incriminating, "Well, I just assumed..."

In his booming voice (the kind that silenced a bustling newsroom) the boss said, "Never assume. It makes a you-know-what, out of you and me! And, always ask a lot of questions!"

That advice has served me well throughout my television news career and as a hockey parent. We were "that family" asking lots of questions before signing on the dotted line for any team.

A preseason meeting is the perfect time to find out whether a team and the coach's philosophy is a good fit for your family. Think of it like an interview. You need to extract the necessary information to make an informed decision that is in the best interest of your family. Find out specifics on the schedule, costs and how to handle school or family conflicts. Getting answers early on can help you win those faceoffs during the season and avoid seeing your budget take a blind side hit.

As a hockey dad, Colorado parenting coach and TEDx speaker Tommy Maloney discovered early on the importance of asking questions, researching teams and turning to the real experts: other parents. 

"Asking parents who have had experience with the association is a good start. Even look at reviews online," Maloney says.

Use the power of observation to watch how coaches interact with players. With younger kids, is the coach getting down on a knee to look at them at their level? Is the coach encouraging during drills?

And don't be afraid to dig for answers on costs. After all, it's your money.

"Hockey equipment can get expensive [I'm a goalie dad, feel my pain?] Ask if the association can do an equipment swap," Maloney suggests. 

Perhaps scholarships are offered to help families with the price of a season. As a single dad, Maloney says he felt ashamed of not having the money for gear and fees.

"The hardest phrase to say to your kids is I can't afford it," he admits. "Ask for help. Trust me, hockey parents have huge hearts."

Always ask your kids if they are having fun. Hockey should be fun, exhilarating and challenging. It's important to know what your kids expect from their hockey experience? Do they understand the commitment it takes to play a full season? 

"Take time to evaluate whether this is the right fit for your family," Maloney says.

The easiest way to set yourself up for failure going into a season is by making assumptions. Assuming it will probably be fine if you miss a tournament for your annual family vacation, that fees are covered by the organization or you won't actually have to work shifts at the snack bar.

When the time comes, you won't be explaining yourself to your coaches and other parents by saying, "Well...I just assumed..."

I have a good idea of what their response might be.  

 

Issue: 
2020-09

Poll

Who is your favorite American player?
Auston Matthews
28%
Jason Robertson
3%
Tage Thompson
10%
Matthew Tkachuk
2%
Patrick Kane
16%
Other
41%
Total votes: 58