I manage my son's mite U8 hockey team and my son loves it. He loves his teammates, he loves tourneys, and he loves meeting kids from different rinks in different cities. When he puts on his Bauer team suit and pulls his hockey bag(that is still bigger than him), he glows a little like he is a mini celebrity. I see that same glow in all of the kids and I love that.
This weekend at the Halloween Howl tourney in Hershey PA, I met a kid whose glow was dimmed because of the Long Island Seagulls and I also saw my son (who in all honesty can be a jerk) show the very best of himself.
The LI Seagulls coaches must be compensating for small packages in their pants to play down their team in a tournament just to win - what a shitty experience for those kids as well as the teams they faced who placed themselves appropriately. One of our coaches took a look at their record for the weekend and in four games, they scored 82-3 - a 79 goal differential with 2 shutouts. We played them and our boys denied their shutout scoring two points. I had several parents who watched our game from other teams come over and comment on the heart our boys showed and how well they played considering they were half the size. They never backed down, they never took dirty hits, and they played clean hockey instead of downright nasty play inappropriate for any age, but especially mites. And our boys were thrilled with their play - THEY came off the ice knowing they played a team that should have been A or AA ranked and they were happy they were all still standing and scored on them twice.
What broke my heart and did me proud was a kid from another team. When the Long Island Shitgulls, I mean Seagulls played another team who we shared a locker room with during the tourney - a little boy who was probably 6 years old from the team they opposed (and shut out) asked my son as he held back his tears ..."Do you ever crosscheck someone and then kick him when he is down?" My son got up and sat next to him and said "NO, that is not how you do it. Did someone do that to you?" the boy said "Yes, the really big kid on the Seagulls did it to me an no one cared. I don't want to play them ever again." My son (who is only 7) tapped this kid on the head and told him not to worry that not all teams are dirty - mostly just jerks from Long Island. The little boy, Zach, laughed and wiped his eyes and my son laughed too. Here we are from Philly and this kid Zach from Pittsburgh and they connected and bonded... I was so proud of my son for taking a minute to show empathy. And when my son scored one of two goals we got in our game against the shitgulls later that day, he told me it was for Zach.
Shame on you Seagulls - shame on every last adult tied to that organization. I don't blame your kids for playing dirty - they learned from you and you should be ashamed. Just know, you may or may not have won this tournament, but deep down you know you are shit, and your kids may not know exactly what they feel, but they likely know it is a hollow victory. I betcha none of those little hooligans make it to the NHL - why don't you teach them some qualities that make them better PEOPLE in the world.
A mom, a manager, and a lover of the game.