A Hockey Mom’s Truth About Rep Hockey

Oy Vey…what have we done! The last few months have been a huge learning curve as we entered this hockey season as a new rep hockey family. We are incredibly proud of Jayden for wanting to try out with so many of his buddies and then making the Novice AE team for the Richmond Hill Stars! He really needed to feel success, after his recent diagnosis and we were so thrilled to see him so happy! Of course, there have been some ups and downs as we’ve become mildly obsessed with the sport both of our boys have learned to love and we’ve made some sacrifices to make all of this happen. We’ve spent entire weekends in and out of the rink, lived and breathed the hockey schedule, become regulars at the Tim Hortons drive thru all while having the best time cheering on our son from the stands!

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The truth about rep hockey is really just a (sub)urban legend until it’s you and your family experiencing it, first hand. You’ve seen the team fun, your child may envy the logo on the team jackets and you may even want to travel to stay in a small town hotel for a tournament, but you don’t really know the reality that will become your life, until you are actually a rep hockey mom or dad.

So here it is, some of the truths that I know about being a new rep hockey mom this season. I hope that it can help you decide if it’s the best choice for you and your family. 

Truth: It’s expensive. I mean really expensive. Be expected to pay anywhere between $2500 to $4000 depending on the level, age group and region (house league is about $600-$700). You can pay monthly cheques to make it a lot more manageable, but it’s literally a car payment. What exactly are you paying for? This money goes to the association, pays for all the ice time, coaching equipment, training experts, tournament fees and gear for your kids (tracksuits, jackets, hats, etc.).

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Truth: There will be new play dates and carpools. It’s awesome. There will be new friends hanging around the house and trading play dates with you. Sometimes you will carpool to the (boring) practices to share the burden of those rushed nights. Your child may even find some new close friends that connect with them around the sport they love and so much more.

Truth: You will make new grown-up friends. You will add each other on Facebook, drink wine after the tournaments and ring cow bells with some amazing new parents who will cheer on your kid, buy your tea, car pool with you and commiserate over the schedule with you. Think of this as one more opportunity for not only your child to make new friends, but you too! But remember that just like in life, there will be parents on the team that you just don’t click with. Take a deep breath, keep trying to build a relationship and remember that you are all in this together.

Truth: Holy cuteness! At 8 years old, those personalized tracksuits and custom jerseys are pretty much the cutest thing in your child’s wardrobe. Watching them carry their own garment bags or equipment bags is pretty adorable too! 

Truth: You may see less of your husband. Paul is not only the manager and member of the coaching staff, but now has decided he’s the team DJ (staying up late to get the perfect playlist)! Having just bought a speaker that will blow our neighbours away if we use it on our deck, he used the “Hockey Score Keeper Sounds” app to play some pretty cool announcements and songs to get us all pumped during the game! To say that he’s excited about being a hockey dad would be a huge understatement…just look at him and his speaker!

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Truth: Teachable moments and life lessons galore! If you want to give your child a taste of the real world…rep hockey or probably any sport is a great way to do it! Learning to take direction from the coach, advocate for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, performance and even their gear are all great lessons for young hockey players!

Truth: Your car and garage are no longer your own! Make way for hockey bags, sticks, garment bags and practice nets and surfaces! Your trunk will look and smell like you are a hockey parent and there is no going back. Your groceries may have to find a new home, but at least by keeping everything in one place, you are guaranteed that you won’t forget anything come game time!

Truth: Feeding your family will be challenging. You and your slow cooker will be best of friends this season. While you will try to feed your child protein 2 hours before each game (just like your team trainer suggested) and not load them with carbs too close to game time, it will happen. There will be dinners at 4pm or 8pm and you won’t eat dinner at the table much at all during game nights. It’s definitely a struggle to rush (or skip) homework, other after school commitments, then head to the rink, but somehow you find a way to make it work. Dinner is often on the run, but you can keep your meals healthier, if you pack them from home, keep snacks in the car and resist the drive thru (except for your own coffee!).

Truth: Volunteering your time, really helps the whole team! Sign up to help the team, but be careful about what time you can give! In our family, Paul is the Team Manager and has a lot of administrative responsibilities above being a member of the coaching staff. I’m the lead for Fundraising and Sponsorship team which means I’m asking people to help raise money…not easy but it’s important for us to step up in a role that will really support the team and Jayden. Even if you don’t have much time, offer to create a flyer, update the team website or join a committee so that you can offer ideas. Everyone should sign up for a role to be fair to all parents! It’s a great way to teach the kids about giving back to the community and being a contributing member of a team.

Truth: You will have to leave work early. Our practices are at 5pm on Tuesdays and Fridays and the parents on the team rush north from downtown, juggle their other children’s schedules or even work from home so that they can be on time for their son’s commitment. It can be a sacrifice for sure, but ice time is at a premium and often the younger ones get the earliest times.

Truth: You will have to ask people for money, often. Rep teams expect some of the costs to be offset by fundraising and sponsorship. Our team goal is to raise between $10k-$16k! Yes, that’s almost $1000 per family. This means that you will be expected to participate in all fundraisers for the team, including selling raffle tickets or boxes of frozen meat, attending pub nights, getting buddies to come to poker events or finding a foursome for golf tournaments. You will have to sell raffle tickets and hit up family, friends and colleagues…more than once. It’s tough, but it can be done and each team makes their own decision of what fundraisers to do. Try to make a list of who you have already asked, so that you can share the requests evenly. Don’t forget to network with other rep hockey parents, so you can reciprocate on each others initiatives! So…meat, anyone?

Truth: The competition is tough! Your child will have moments when they don’t shine and it’s okay. My stomach is in knots when Jayden is on the ice during a game. I get so nervous for him to try his best, not always being perfect but working hard for himself and his team. Sometimes he just doesn’t perform and while my head reminds me of the commitment and cost, he’s still a kid. All kids are going to have good days and bad days and it’s just part of the game! No need to get stressed or worried, but sometimes a good chat about how they are feeling about their performance is a good way to help them build self-awareness, assess any worries and ensure they are still having fun!

Truth: Your child will thrive! Seeing Jayden look up at me in the stands as I madly ring the bell after a great play, is pure magic. As the kids skate off of the ice after a great win or even after playing their hardest you can truly see the love of the game and their own sense of pride. There are amazing lessons that happen when they are part of a team.

We’ve loved and struggled the last couple of months getting into the rep hockey groove…but would we give it up?

No! We know that over the season we will adapt and adjust to what life is like as rep hockey parents. We also know that the benefits of seeing your child excel, enjoy and participate in a sport they love, far outweigh the work and time commitment and truthfully, I just love screaming and ringing that bell!

Have you ever considered rep hockey for your child? What advice do you have for other families? Looking for the perfect gift for your favourite hockey player? Check this out! 

Hockey Mom Prayer,
May I find the best route to the hockey arena in rush hour traffic.

May there not be any road closures, beginner drivers or other stressed out hockey parents in my path. May The Boy have remembered all his equipment.

May I hold my incredulous yell of frustration back when we’re running late and he tells me that he MIGHT have left his hockey gloves on the floor back home. May I find the grace not to scream at an opposing player who has just elbowed my son in the head. May I find a spot in the arena that is actually under a working heater.

May I not get sick of Tim Horton’s coffee, bagels, sandwiches and Timbits in the next eight months. May I try, for once, to just enjoy the game and not get stressed out and embarrass my son by screaming in the third period “Jesus, Mary and Joseph! SKATE!!!!!!!” May I have the right words to comfort and encourage him when he has a bad game and the exuberance to celebrate with him when he has a good one.

May I remember that he loves this freezing, time-consuming, money-sucking sport and that he is a thing of beauty when he skates. And, most of all, may I remember that his childhood is passing all too quickly and that, one day, I will actually miss the all the time we spent in the van hustling back and forth between arenas.

One day I will wish for that time back so let me hold it in my memory as long as I can because it is flying away from me, faster than my son on hockey skates.

Photo and poem credit: Youth Hockey Canada FB page

24 Comments on A Hockey Mom’s Truth About Rep Hockey

  1. Velda
    November 10, 2015 at 12:43 am (2 years ago)

    Wonderfully written and true to each word Heather. This is our second year of being involved with rep hockey and I don’t know if we are lucky or not this year with schedules, but it does seem easier. I think maybe we are just not so overwhelmed and know what to expect. Great hockey moms to sit with in the stands make it better too!

    Reply
    • Heather Hamilton
      November 10, 2015 at 12:30 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks Velda! I totally agree that your stand partners make all the difference! 😉

      Reply
  2. Wendy Morelli
    November 10, 2015 at 1:21 pm (2 years ago)

    Great post Heather. DD has been playing for 4 years, loves it, met many new friends, and so have we. Your hockey family become your new weekend friends. Share in the kids highs and lows. With the exception of the few crazy parents, wouldn’t change it for the world. xoxo

    Reply
    • Heather Hamilton
      November 10, 2015 at 1:32 pm (2 years ago)

      Love that Wendy! We have great parents and we have some fun in the stands together…nice to know we aren’t alone in this craziness!

      Reply
  3. Paula
    November 10, 2015 at 9:43 pm (2 years ago)

    Great article! Made me very emotional as my son recently finished his minor hockey career after 9 consecutive years playing AAA. There were definitely some ups and downs along the way but my best advice is to enjoy every single moment because you blink and it’s over. My son was drafted into the OHL at 15 years old and moved out away from his family and friends to begin his new journey. Proud of him for sure but definitely miss the days of the early morning practices and cow bells 🙂

    Reply
  4. John Wynne
    November 11, 2015 at 3:47 pm (2 years ago)

    Great article! Several of my closest friends, those in my wedding party, ones I have known for over a quarter of a century I met playing minor hockey. I coach, volunteer on the executive board and work in the hockey/sports industry. There will be good years and bad, good days and bad and everything in between. But kids and parents will meet friends and acquaintances that you will have for a long time. Best of luck on the season and to future years!

    Reply
    • Heather Hamilton
      November 11, 2015 at 5:22 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you so much!!

      Reply
  5. Astra
    November 11, 2015 at 8:18 pm (2 years ago)

    Wow, can I relate to this Heather – all your ‘truths’ and all their ‘consequences’! I’m into my 16th season as a hockey mom -many of them with two boys playing nets competitively. One final truth? It goes by fast! I’m down to just my daughter playing and she plays house league. I’ve come full circle 🙂
    (and check out my website – I’ve written a book that might interest you!)

    Reply
    • Heather Hamilton
      November 11, 2015 at 9:28 pm (2 years ago)

      Just shared your post on my FB page! Thanks!

      Reply
  6. Dennis
    November 11, 2015 at 9:17 pm (2 years ago)

    Heather beautifully written. Went thru it all. Best times of my life. You brought me to tears. My son is now in his last season playing Jr.c hockey. 21 yrs old. He is now captain of his team. Moving to a small town we had no friends. Now all our friends are hockey parents. Wouldn’t change a thing. It will be sad and I will get over it. Best advise. ALWAYS say great game. Thank you

    Reply
    • Heather Hamilton
      November 11, 2015 at 9:29 pm (2 years ago)

      Love that advice! Thanks Dennis! Enjoy your last season together.

      Reply
  7. Chris Dyson
    November 11, 2015 at 11:23 pm (2 years ago)

    Great article, I have shared on my FB and Twitter pages.

    Reply
    • Heather Hamilton
      November 12, 2015 at 3:35 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks so much, Chris! I love that Dads and coaches are reading and weighing in!

      Reply
  8. Jen
    November 12, 2015 at 1:34 am (2 years ago)

    Wow – I feel like we are leading very similar lives right now! Our son is playing his first year Novice A and my husband is also coaching (and am heading up the fundraiser). I also read your other post about your son’s challenges with learning – our little guy was diagnosed with a writing/processing disorder, ADHD and Anxiety earlier this year and while it’s been a struggle, it is nice to know that there are things we can do to help, and to finally have a name for it! I feel much a sense of community with our new hockey “family” and while it is challenging financially and scheduling at times, we wouldn’t change a thing – watching our little guy thrive makes it all worth it. I wish you the best season!!!

    Reply
    • Heather Hamilton
      November 12, 2015 at 3:37 pm (2 years ago)

      Yes, parallel lives indeed! I love that Jayden has hockey as an outlet for his energy but his lack of focus can certainly impact the success of a practice or game. We are still working on finding the best strategies to keep him motivated and trying his best! Good luck to you this season!

      Reply
  9. Ryan
    November 12, 2015 at 5:01 am (2 years ago)

    Great article, very well written and 100% true. My boys are bantam and peewee now and all of our close friends, and theirs, are hockey people. At the beginning of this journey it was completely overwhelming but as we are nearing the end of it I am enjoying every moment all that much more. It is easy to be negative when your guy has a bad game and you think of all your family has sacrificed for their hockey but the best advice is to always keep it positive on the ride home. Nothing you can “advise” then about is going to be something they already didn’t know so keep it positive and enjoy the heck out of the journey!!

    Reply
    • Heather Hamilton
      November 12, 2015 at 3:38 pm (2 years ago)

      It’s amazing how your world becomes all about the sport…we have a good balance for now, but I could see that changing in the future! Thanks for ready and for the great advice!

      Reply
  10. Lairie
    November 14, 2015 at 8:49 pm (2 years ago)

    This pretty much sums it up. I am a Minor Atom AA goalie mom so there’s all of this and more. ☺️

    Reply
  11. Reem
    November 21, 2015 at 2:23 am (2 years ago)

    This is spot on. My son is first year Atom and third year playing rep hockey. He has ADHD and SPD.
    Like you, I was worried about his focus and the effect on the team. But I shouldn’t have worried. The sense of commitment the boys have with each other makes him work extra hard so he doesn’t let them down. He loves it and it’s actually benefitted his ADHD. The strenuous exercise he gets helps with the serotonin brain deficiencies and is more effective than any medication. And the automatic bond the team gives helps him learn how to overcome his social issues.
    I may grumble about hockey taking over our lives every year but I know that it’s helped my son blossom and fit in and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
    Mind you it is defiantly a love/hate relationship. Four months into the season when we’ve been practically living in hockey arenas, know all the fast food drive through attendants by name, spend more time with the other hockey parents then me and my husband spend together and have given up every weekend, Thanksgiving (6pm practice) and Christmas (10-21 & 26-28 tournaments), you two would be breaking out the bubbly come March when it means hockey season is over.

    Reply
  12. jjleigh
    November 21, 2015 at 2:53 am (2 years ago)

    Great article, but really, applies pretty much the same to house league. Not quite the same amount of money and fundraising, but basically all the same challenges. I’m not trying to put down the article, but it sort of implies choosing if ‘rep’ hockey is for you, when I think it’s a good guide as to whether being a hockey parent of any kind, is for you. It’s valuable to a wider audience.

    Reply
    • Heather Hamilton
      November 21, 2015 at 3:24 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you for your comments. Have you played rep? While some aspects of sports are the same. The time and financial obligations are entirely different taking the commitment to a new level.

      Reply
  13. Jennifer Chan
    November 22, 2015 at 5:51 pm (2 years ago)

    This is awesome Heather! Just this am my internal dialogue went a little something like this “are they going to send Lukie back down to HL??” “NO!! It’ll click one of these days…” “but what if it doesn’t?” “It will!!!” I’ve decided to be 100% positive after the game and let his coach coach him. Good luck with your season and thanks so much!!

    Reply
    • Heather Hamilton
      November 22, 2015 at 5:57 pm (2 years ago)

      I’ve worried about going back to HL. Isn’t that nuts? I do know that I have continued to learn more about how to motivate Jayden to just do his best! Good luck to you!

      Reply
  14. chuck dill
    December 23, 2015 at 2:11 am (1 year ago)

    Here is my view as a dad of a player who is 28 now. He played High end rep his whole childhood. Yes, it was lots of work. Lots of fun and at times lots of frustration. but, in the end this sums it all up for me.

    He is 16 years old, we are coming back from a game in barrie and arriving back in oshawa at 11:30 pm. I pull into macs milk to grab something. Right there in the parking lot, 5 kids his age, hanging out, smoking. My son looks at me and says. So glad i play hockey and dont have time for that.

    he is now 28, and does not drink or smoke still. He likes to socialize, sure. But knows control. To me Hockey showed him the right lessons in life.

    Reply

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