By Melissa Gibson
If I had a dollar for every time I heard another hockey parent say to me, “I could never be a Goalie Mom, it’s so stressful, I could never do it,” I would have enough money to keep him suited in the best equipment for seasons to come.
My son Braxton is 10 years old and has played hockey for the last 5 years beginning in Timbits. He started out as a player in the community association and always gravitated to the goalie position every chance he was given. In the last two years, Braxton decided to dedicate his training and development as a goaltender with a private league as well as goaltender specific training and other multi-sport development programs.
Braxton tried out and made an elite team in the PeeWee Division this season and will be on the ice 4 times per week.
When Braxton first declared his goalie position – I was not thrilled (even though I kept it to myself). I had always heard about how expensive the position and equipment was, the pressure that he would be under as a young person, and the failure he would experience alone in the net after a big loss. But it was Braxton’s passion for the position and his dedication to practicing, which convinced me it was the right thing to do. It is many of these things now that I love what it has taught Braxton and our family. It has taught all of us humility, mental toughness, and resiliency.
Being a “Goalie Mom,” certainly comes with its ups and downs. Being in the stands, my stomach in a knot feeling the stress and pressure for him all alone in the net as the last line of defence. What a great feeling when he makes that spectacular breakaway or penalty shot save. As well, that feeling when his entire team skates down and shows such pride after a big win. On the flip side, when he does not make the big save and you can see and feel the defeat in the crowd around you, as well as in him. Or the time when he had an “off game” and had to stick with it until the end.
There are times when it would feel easier to get out of my seat and leave because the stress of watching my son ‘get lit up,’ is too difficult to handle. However, I have never left the stands mid-game because I would never want to send a message that I was giving up or I did not believe that everything was going to work out.
But it’s not just during the game, things can be stressful.
There can only be one starting goalie, and when Braxton learns that he will not be the starting goalie for the game, it’s tough to see his disappointment knowing that he’s thinking maybe he is not good enough. This too has taught Braxton great things – it teaches him to always be prepared – you never know when you might get called out to help your team, and to be a great cheerleader always. Car rides post game are always quiet regardless of a win or loss – we usually wait for Braxton to talk to us about how he is feeling, IF he decides to. We never allow excuses and this is something that Braxton continues to work on.
A few things that have always been a regular conversation and promoted in our family is always putting forth your best effort and attitude in everything you do. Whether that be studying for your latest quiz or learning something new. Those are sometimes the only two things that are in your control and no matter what – if you are winning or losing, you can maintain it. The greatest gifts the position has taught Braxton is patience, resiliency, and grit. Braxton has learned this primarily through failing and losing – something that we as parents always try to protect our children from.
Braxton tried out for Team Brick Alberta in December 2018 and advanced through all the gates. He found out that he was selected to fill one of two goalie positions for the team in May 2019. The training that led up to the tournament week and the tournament itself, was one of the most special experiences to date for Braxton and our entire family. The reinforcement he received with respect to leadership, teamwork, earning your confidence, and hard work is something that he can apply to everything as he matures.
Braxton continues to learn to trust himself, to get back up when he falls down (regardless if he is in the net), and to always try his best. These are skills he learned through his sport and that will equip him in everything he will do. I have often been told that goalies are “weird,” – they are not – they are special, resilient, and courageous.
Feature Image Photo Credit: Team Brick