Children have their own Agendas when it comes to sport!

By: Erin FitzGibbon (

This is my hockey team in university (1999)

I love sport!!! As a child I played a million different sports. I was a gymnast. I competed in show jumping; I played hockey; I played soccer; rugby was one of my favourite sports. I just loved being active. As I got older I focused on just a few sports. My favourites were hockey and rugby. I played both sports in University; it was a fantastic ride.

Now I volunteer as a coach and I photograph sporting events. Strangely enough I do both activities for the same reason. When children play sports they have this raw energy. They aren’t focused on the same kinds of priorities that we adults expect. They come to the game and they play with this innocence that makes every day at the rink or the gym brand new and exciting.

I recently helped my husband coach his Tyke team during a practice. The kids

Christmas hockey game for the Tykes

are seven and eight years old. They jumped on the ice excited to participate in practice. My husband blew the whistle calling all the players to join him so they could go over the first drill. One little fellow stayed in the corner and continued to shoot the puck against the boards. I went over to collect him. I started by calling his name. I was annoyed that he had chosen to ignore the whistle, wasn’t he serious about his hockey? Didn’t he tell me in the dressing room that he loved to practice? Why was this little guy ignoring his coach? I reached the corner and got his attention. He looked stunned that we were starting practice. At that moment I realized that this little man was so focused on working on his shot he hadn’t heard the whistle. He hadn’t heard me calling him because he was so focused on practicing his shot. He was working on keeping his top hand away from his body. This was something the kids had worked on during their previous practice. It was awesome that he remembered. I asked him to join his teammates so we could start practice.

I’m a reflective person and this experience taught me something important. I realized I was taking a child away from practicing a skill. He was focused, he was driven to succeed and here I was redirecting his energy. I had to do it; we only had so much time on the ice. I felt sad that I had to redirect him. The hockey coach in me struggled with the fact that I might be redirecting a child into an activity where he may be less focused and less productive. This is one of the faults with adults always directing the learning of children. It’s more philosophical then I really need to be right now.

Perfect Timing

Instead I want to focus on the energy that incident displays. It’s this effervescent energy that I love to capture in my images. It’s this same energy that keeps me coming back to coaching year after year. Kids aren’t on the ice for the same reasons we adults sign them up. Kids see the sport in a way we don’t. I try my best, as a photographer and coach to keep this idea in the back of my mind at all times. I believe that every coach should create practices plans that will foster a love of the game. Skills and fun should be the first thought in every adult’s mind. As a photographer I shoot images of athletes playing so I can show everyone how much sport is about just playing the game because it’s fun. I do the same thing as a coach. Sport is about kids pushing

Getting air out on the court

themselves to learn new skills. I want parents to see that sport has a human side. It’s far removed from the commercialized photographs and million dollar contracts. I want kids to love playing just as much as I did when I was their age. As an adult I have the power to foster a love for the game. Kids are there for their own reasons and they don’t always match with the ideas of adults. Maybe we as adults should be okay with that. At one point in our lives we were just like them. We wanted to focus on our shots too.

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