USA Hockey Magazine

February 2015

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line change ADVICE FOR PARENTS, REFS AND COACHES 08 ILLUSTRATION BY Kirk Lyttle; PHOTO COURTESY OF Chad Forsman FEBRUARY. 2015 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM Chad Forsman's involvement in hockey may have only started seven years ago, but his level of participation with the Park County Youth Hockey Association has grown over the short time span. Currently, Forsman is a member of the association's board of directors while also serving as a coach with both of his sons' teams. "My wife and I, once I stepped on the ice, we were kind of all in with hockey," Forsman said. "All of a sudden we were immersed in it. It's a great community of hockey families who are really supportive of everybody. It was easy to get involved." When he's not around the rink with his boys' teams, Forsman remains connected to the game as a play-by- play announcer with the Yellowstone Quake, the local Junior team in the North American 3 Hockey League. And while suiting up and playing in an adult league would be fun, Forsman said there just aren't enough hours in the day. "I'd love to play, but I love being around my boys' teams more," he said. "It's fun getting to know them and getting to know their families and being a part of their lives. "Hopefully you're somebody they can look up to and be a role model for them. Our number one goal is to develop these kids as hockey players and as young men and women so that they can be successful in life." There are two words that can leave a hockey parent feeling merry or miserable over the course of a hockey season. Those two words are "ice time." Let's face it, nothing will make a parent's blood boil quicker than watching their son or daughter parked on the end of the bench like an old car sitting on cinder- blocks in the driveway. Who can blame them? Every parent wants their child to get as much ice time as any other kid, and at the youth level they should. As John Walsh, an assistant coach with the Syracuse Stars program, has seen, sometimes coaches forget their role and what youth hockey participation is really all about. "Most young coaches put pressure on themselves to win. I was like that when I first start- ed," says Walsh, who has been coaching for 37 years. "In time I learned that even though I hate to lose, my main role is to make players better." Making players better means giving them a chance to play in both practices and games. At the younger levels, Walsh says all players should play a reg- ular shift in every game. Coaches always have the option of putting a weaker player on a line with two stronger players, or giving top lines a little more ice time when the game is on the line. E a s t C a r o l i n a H o c k e y Association mom Kimberly Smith Lukhard says jumping into the travel hockey arena meant her family had to develop thick skin, since the coach would not guarantee her son would play. Her boys needed to understand making practices and giving 100 percent was the price they have to pay for ice time. "I would only speak to the coach about our sons getting short changed if I saw it happen- ing shift after shift, game after game," she says. As the author of "Eat, Skate, Win," Smith Lukhard feels that hockey teaches her children valu- able life lessons that will stick with them long after they've left the rink. Those lessons can apply to mom and dad as well. "As parents we learn one of the most valuable lessons: we can't make it happen for our children on the ice; it's up to them." Still, as former University of Denver head coach George Gwozdecky says, there should only be a few reasons for youth hockey coaches to shorten their bench. Those reasons should be for issues such as sickness, inju- ries or breaking team rules. "Shortening the bench in order to win a youth hockey game is absurd," says Gwozdecky, who won two national titles at DU. "The job of a coach is to develop every player's physical skills within the team's parame- ters while at the same time teach- ing the important skills of disci- pline, team-first attitude, tenacity, sacrifice and work ethic." Playing a short bench, while usually done to improve a team's chances of winning, can have the opposite effect. Not only will some players get discouraged, but the fact that the team is not developing any level of quality depth could come back to bite a coach as the season winds down. Through trial and error, Walsh has learned that victory is sweet, but developing skaters into bet- ter players and people is an even sweeter reward. Syracuse, N.Y., hockey mom Christie Casciano Burns is the author of The Puck Hog and Haunted Hockey in Lake Placid, now available on VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH Chad Forsman Cody, Wyo. A Lack Of Ice Time Can Make A Parent's Blood Boil HOCKEY MOM COLUMN By CHRISTIE CASCIANO BURNS

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