Monday, April 12, 2010

When a loss is actually a win

Last year I mentioned to First Born Son that there was a spring hockey program that was new to the area - he might want to check it out.

He passed. I couldn't blame him. He had a crappy year and didn't want to prolong the agony into a 9th month of hockey.

But a lot of his younger friends took advantage and some of them, whose skills were about the same level as his were selected. He decided he wanted to try out this year. So we went for the three tryouts. Not expecting much because we knew what kind of season he had - if it was a grading situation, I would have assigned him a 75%. However it was something he expressed interest in and we want to encourage the kid as much as we can.

First tryout goes well. The Big Guy is happy with how FBS performs. He even gets a moment with one of the coaches who tells him he's doing a great job. I take him to the second tryout and at one point he shuts down a fast breakaway with multiple rebounds. Second Born Son and I look at each other and declare "Whoa!" Goalie boy is on fire!

Third tryout is THE day. I'm not anxious, but FBS is even though he's trying not to show it. We've discussed the odds of him being selected for this team - six goalies, two positions. There are well over 40 kids skating for the team and over half are going to be disappointed. The hardest part for FBS is the three other players who go to his school. Instead of being supportive and encouraging, are puffing themselves up on facebook and in person - while pushing him down. One of them is also a goalie, who FBS has dealt with for years. Raging ego. Talented, but could be more so if he focused and wasn't sloppy. He's big and strong, but not disciplined or fast, or flexible. He mouth makes up for all of that.

So we've discussed why FBS wanted to go through these motions. Primarily to see what other coaches have to say. To determine if he's capable of working to a higher standard when he needs to. To be evaluated alongside other goalies. He came home smiling from the first two tryouts. We tell him we don't expect him to put the kind of pressure on himself that other parents would expect. We tell him to HAVE FUN. And because of that - he plays very, very well.

Sunday comes, and the coaches - in the great tradition that is sporting cruelty, post the list for all to see. If you are on this list - you made it. If you are THAT list - you didn't and EVERYONE WILL KNOW IT.

FBS calls me on the way home to tell him he didn't get picked. He's not going to be on what is pretty much a Triple-A team. He has disappointment in his voice. Before he can get too far, I remind him of why we did this. I point out that his father, brother and I have seen him play the hockey we KNOW he could have played in the season. It's up to him to believe in himself - he proved it in three tryouts. (Note: Only one of the kids who was on his team this year did make the team, but none of three from his school were named - yup that Karma is a BITCH!)

I tell him I'm proud, and I love him, and I'm glad he TRIED.

He sleeps well and I know he's made peace with it. It's enough to keep him motivated until the fall when the madness starts again....

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