What Hockey is Teaching My Little Girl About Life

My husband and I were happy to oblige when our now 9 year old daughter wanted to play hockey. Of course I know playing a team sport is physically and emotionally good for my daughter, but I’m learning there are extra benefits to playing hockey, especially for a girl.

Be tough

You have to be tough to play hockey. For one, you have to put up with uncomfortable gear. I have one of those sensory kids where every tag is an annoyance. If your helmet doesn’t feel quite right…guess what? Get over it because you can’t go on the ice without a helmet. There’s no “my tummy hurts, I’m tired, I don’t feel like it”. Don’t get me wrong, if she’s sick she’s not going to practice, but moms know that “my tummy hurts” gimmick. With my kid 90% of the time she just needs to eat something or poop. If that’s the case, grab and apple and we’re going to hockey! Ice time is expensive and you need the practice kid.

Girls can do anything boys can do.

Now I don’t want to give the impression that anyone has discouraged her from playing because she’s a girl. So far so good. The nice thing about hockey, at least where we live, is they play co-ed until high school which is longer than many youth sports. However, it’s obvious to everyone there are less girls than boys playing. Quite frankly I think she likes being in the minority, but there isn’t special dispensation for being a girl vs. a boy. They all wear the same gear (well, minus a cup) and play the same positions. As she gets older she will learn there are differences between girls and boys specific to hockey. She’ll likely to be smaller yet possibly more agile than most of the boys. They are both important physical qualities in this game and playing to her strengths will make her and her team better.

Empathy

Hockey is hard. Even the best players miss a shot, get scored on or fall down and it’s not shocking when it happens. In that way it’s different than many other sports. My daughter isn’t a great player *yet*, but she’s been in the thick of it contributing to wins, and losses. Her teammates are supportive of her and she of them. When a puck goes flying by or a player misses a shot, they all know it could have been them, and next time it probably will be. Fist bumps abound with wins and losses.

Hard work can pay off.

This kid had TWO YEARS of lessons before she was even eligible to play on a team. During that time she broke her pinky and wasn’t able to finish out a session. I don’t know if I’ve ever stuck with a hobby for two years, and that’s over 20% of her lifetime. She kept at it and was finally eligible to play on a team. What a great lesson in persistence!

Don’t forget to have fun.

I mean, what’s more fun than ice skating?

You still have to do well in school.

My daughter is a good student but it often comes easy to her (I know, humble brag. Sorry not sorry). She’s in third grade, and likely it won’t always be easy. On the days when school work takes more effort she says “it’s ok, I’m going to be a hockey player anyway”. You know that “back up plan” talk we have to have with our kids when they say they want to be a rockstar or play professional sports? I’m not in the business of crushing dreams, but my petite 9 year old girl has a really, really, really, long shot (ha, long shot!) at being in the NHL. I do try to tailor the “back up plan” conversation to be more encouraging than dream-crushing. “If you want to play hockey in college, you need good grades.” “If you want to continue playing hockey, and have me pay for it, you need good grades.” “If you want to live past next week, you better have good grades.” Do I want her to be self-motivated to do well in school? Sure, but I am loving this hockey leverage in the meantime.