At the start of my daughter’s second year of hockey, she noticed the older rep team girls playing a style of hockey that was much faster than her houseleague counterpart. Within a month she had her heart set on being a part of that world. Tryouts for next season came and to our surprise she made a rep team. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
If your little player has graduated from the house leagues to rep and you’re finding yourself leaving work early, sitting in rush hour heading to a game across town wondering what you’ve signed yourself up for, here are some tips to help survive your first season of rep hockey:
Rep hockey is pricey
You’ve probably already heard that hockey is super expensive. It’s definitely not cheap. For rep hockey, you can expect to pay around four times your house league fees. Hockey will also cost more as kids get older, and depending on how competitive your team is, and if they travel to many tournaments, fees can be much higher. Expect to be doing some fundraising to help supplement the costs.
Your schedule is dictated by hockey
From September onwards, my response to any invitation is “I’ll check the hockey schedule and get back to you.” There will be a commitment expectation for your team that hockey comes first over almost everything. Which means short of a family wedding or a death, you are expected to be there. Playoffs conflict with March Break vacations. Long weekends are for tournaments and your child may have to miss birthday parties for hockey practice. You need to realize that you are not anywhere. Family events will be scheduled around hockey. Some leagues/teams publish their scheduled games and tournaments months in advance, making it somewhat easier to plan your life. Last year, my child’s team used the Team Snap app. I should totally buy stock in it as it really is a God-send for keeping track of the hockey schedule.
Other sports may have to drop
My daughter plays rep hockey and also is a competitive figure skater. It is a crazy balance. Skating has to “skate” around hockey. Hockey comes first so we sometimes miss skate practices and have to forgo competitions for tournaments (which sometimes fall on the same weekends).
There are days when we have gone from skate competition straight to a hockey game back to back. So you will likely have to sacrifice one. We had an upfront conversation with her coach and committed that hockey would always take the upper hand. In most cases, coaches won’t want you doing two competitive sports in the same season. Ours only did as skating skills complimented hockey.
Your hockey family will help
I work full-time and so does my husband. We are fortunate to have some flexibility in our jobs. But most workplaces don’t consider hockey a good excuse for cutting out of work early. In order for me to make my daughter’s mid-week 4:30pm practices, I sometimes rely on other hockey parents to get her there after school. After work, I meet them at the rink. Don’t worry, everyone is in the same boat. You will spend more time with hockey parents than your other friends and family during hockey season. They won’t be strangers for long.
Feeding your athlete
My daughter’s hockey is almost always right at meal time. Considering that we need to be at the rink 1 hour before the puck drops, and it can take up to an hour to drive there, it’s a constant struggle for me to figure out what she can eat. My player is very picky so finding ‘on-the-go’ food is a challenge. But here’s the good thing, hockey has helped her understand the importance of healthy food as fuel for up for hockey. I now stock up on the healthy snacks and granola bars and a protein shake can sometimes fill in when there isn’t time to eat or hydrate. Some nights they are my dinner, too. I’ve learned that I need to stay away from the poutine or as Christina Aguilera would say, “my hips don’t lie”. Look for snacks that travel well, make-ahead meals and make at home meal kits to make sure the whole family is eating well.
You need a reliable car
You need access to a reliable car and you’ll be spending a lot of time in it. Expect to rack up some miles on your car and sometimes feeling you are completely lost. Driving in bad weather to remote parts of the city require a GPS. Snow tires are a must if you live within a snowbelt where a storm can sometimes provide you with whiteout conditions and a white knuckles grip. Word of advice … make sure you’re topped up on gas and wiper fluid and have clear directions the night before you leave for the rink and leave early. I learned this lesson the hard way.
Make sure you have cash and coins
After scrambling for change at the bottom of my purse a few too many times, I learned to keep a change and small bills in the car. Most arena snack bars are cash-only. So it’s important to make sure you have cash on hand before promising that post-game slushie. Plus … some places charge for spectators. Yes, you may have to fork over $5 or more to watch your own child play.
Being a rep hockey mom is a lot of work. There are days when as I sit in my sixth rink of the week and I’m fretting over the pile of laundry at home or assignment work I will have to finish later. But it’s worth it. My daughter pours her heart into something she loves. She works hard and if she’s willing to put in this work then I’m willing to support it.