Pumping The Brakes On Unrealistic Expectations

WHEN IT COMES TO ATHLETES-especially the ones who rise to the pinnacle of their respective sports-the game can be an around-the-clock endeavor. So, it only stands to reason in the minds of many that one should eat, sleep and breathe a particular sport in order to achieve maximum success. Right?

Well, not quite. There's a lot of science, and common sense that says the opposite
is true.

"If there was a formula to becoming a professional athlete, it would have been bottled long ago," says Jim Sarosy, the chief operating officer of the AHL's Syracuse Crunch who is also a hockey dad.

For Sarosy, who is around peak performers every day, he harbors no illusions of one day seeing the family name adorning the back of a Crunch jersey. In fact, he actually prefers that his kids don't focus solely on hockey, but rather play a variety of sports.

"It's an opportunity for the child to gain additional experience, meet new people, reset mentally and use different muscles," says Sarosy, who also found breaks to be beneficial to parents.

"It serves as a chance to re-evaluate and put the goals of having kids play a youth sport in perspective."

Evaluating your kids' athletic goals is a healthy thing for parents to do, according to USA Hockey's director of youth hockey Kenny Rausch, who advocates that kids play at a level where they can have fun and success.

Rausch often asks players and their parents looking to jump to the next level this simple question: Would you like to score 40 goals or four goals next year?

If the answer is 40 (it always is), Rausch says they should stay at the level where that is the more likely scenario.

"We have a lot of kids who jump to the next level who learn to play 'safe hockey' in order to survive and stay in a lineup, instead of being able to be creative and make plays," he says.

Rausch adds that parents should look for red flags-like a lack of interest in participating and behavior issues-when it comes to deciding whether it's time to pump the brakes on hockey. As they get older, if the school work suffers, that's time to hit the brakes hard.

Perhaps one of the biggest proponents of sane sports parenting is the standard-bearer of hockey parents, ESPN anchor John Buccigross.

"I have always been a believer that the best thing for the kids and the family is to play at the local rink," Buccigross says. "Also, my kids always played as many sports as possible to develop as a total athlete and have fun doing different things."

No need to force the game down anyone's throat, Buccigross says.

"My credo as a parent was always-I can mess it up more than I can help it."

Christie Casciano Burns is a hockey mom in Syracuse, N.Y. She is also the author of two books, "The Puck Hog" and "Haunted Hockey in Lake Placid."

Coach of the Month: Jim Maimone

Age 53  //  Hometown: Stoneham, Mass.   

Throughout his years of dedicated service with Massachusetts Hockey, Jim Maimone has been advocate for programs such as Learn to Skate and Learn to Play. That's why he currently serves as the state's director of Learn to Skate along with his other duties.

Maimone's love of hockey started as a youngster growing up in Boston during the days of Bobby Orr. That eventually led him to volunteer at his local rink.

He has coached the game at nearly every level, saying the best way to watch a game is from behind the bench.

Along with coaching, Maimone continues to help other youngsters to develop a passion for the game. He has grown Massachusetts' Learn to Skate program and calls the program's weekly sessions the best two hours of his week.

And while they might not be his kids out on the ice, Maimone still appreciates the opportunity to give back.

"People volunteered so I could play," Maimone says. "So now, I voluntter so that other kids can play."






Who is your favorite 2023/2024 NHL Rookie?
Connor Bedard
Matthew Knies
Brock Faber
Logan Stankoven
Logan Cooley
Total votes: 3