USA Hockey Magazine

November 2018

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BEH I N D T HE G L A SS REO Speedwagon was one of my favorite bands growing up and created a number of songs that became part of the soundtrack of my youth. One song in particular, "Roll With The Changes," still holds a special place in my heart, especially as I watch my daughter, Sophia, continue on with her hockey journey. W h i le s ome pl ay er s a r e for t u n at e enough to play their entire careers in the same association or with the same group of friends, for others the only constant is change. It seems that my family is not alone when it comes rolling with the changes. I recently received an email from a reader asking for tips on dealing with change and finding a pain-free way to transition your child to a new team. The apple didn't fall far from the tree when the opportunity came for my daughter to try out for a varsity high school hockey team. It's the only girls' high school hockey team in our county, which meant playing for a district that's a rival school in other sports. She was anxious, nervous and full of self-doubt. There were new faces and new coaches, a new rink and new rules. A funny thing happened on the way to an emotional breakdown. It turned out my daughter's new teammates were very welcoming and encouraging, melting away all that anxiety and planting the seeds for sisterhood. That led me to wonder how others deal with the constant chang es thrown our way as hockey players and parents. To help ease concerns, Baldwinsville, N.Y., hockey coach Steve Ragan invites new players and parents for a quick chat. He even hosts team BBQs for families, team fundraising events and maintains an open-door policy. Syracuse Blazers Coach Matthew Darois advises par- ents not to project their fears about skill levels and playing time on their sons and daughters. "At the end of the day, no matter what new team you're joining, it's full of hockey people, the best people on earth," he said. "Tell them to play hard with a big smile on their face and relax." Vernon Hills (Ill.) Ice Dogs hockey mom, Caryn Skomer Hammond, says her entire social life tends to revolve around other hockey parents, so joining a new team can be daunting for parents, too. "I have mourned the loss of some teams whose par- ents I have come to love like family," Skomer said. "Fortunately, we seem to run into each other at rinks and tournaments throughout the season." Neillsville, Wis., mom Jen Berg 's daughter worked hard, put her hand out during practice and introduced herself right away. Soon, it was as if she had been playing with the team since she started. "As a parent it was a bit rougher getting to know the hierarchy, if you will, of a new team," she said. "I was team manager previously and was used to knowing everything. I sat back and watched for the few weeks to figure out the circles and eventually just stuck my hand out, too." As for my daughter's first year with her Skaneateles Varsity High School hockey team? Everything just clicked and they finished the season with a 19-0 mark. As the boys from REO sang, "If you're tired of the same old story, turn some pages. I will be here when you are ready, to roll with the changes." P 16 // NOVEMBER 2018 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM ILLUSTRATION BY Darren Gygi COACH OF THE MONTH "Tell them to play hard with a big smile on their face and relax." THE HOCKEY MOM By Christie Casciano Burns KIRK KULLBERG Age: 32 Anchorage, Alaska Kirk Kullberg grew up playing hockey in the Anchorage Hockey Association before leaving the Last Frontier to serve a 10-year stint in the Marine Corps. At the end of his final tour of duty, he told his wife that he would leave the Corps if he could go back to Alaska and coach hockey. The local program has benefitted from that decision ever since. The Level 4 coach spends 50-to-60 hours a week at the rink, rang- ing from coaching the North Stars 18U squad, to his role as 8 & Under director, to overseeing learn to skate initiatives. In implementing the ADM model, Kullberg has an upbeat and unselfish approach to the sport he loves, and dedication to the Alaskan youth who play it. While he credits the Marines for helping craft his leadership skills, his love for coaching comes down to seeing kids take joy in the sport they're just learning. "There's two moments. When a kid stops for the first time, and when they score their first goal," Kullberg said. "They have the biggest smile on their face you'll ever see. It's awesome." Rolling With The Changes Part Of The Hockey Journey

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