Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Commitment is not a four-letter word

A little rain isn't going to hurt you. Honest.
This past summer, at my request, my colleague April "The Hockey Mom" Bowling was kind enough to switch our regular columns in the New England Hockey Journal. I just wanted to get something off my chest, something which had been percolating for years but really bubbled over last spring, at the intersection of hockey and spring soccer seasons.

For a long time, I've been frustrated by what I feel is a very casual approach on the part of too many parents regarding youth sports. Now, I don't think youth sports ought to be life-and-death, but I also feel that signing up for a team requires more than a passing commitment. Which led to this column, which first ran in the August, 2013 issue of the NEHJ.

Commitment is not a four-letter word

Every year, it seems I write at least one column that I know is going to set people off. So this year, I'm being clever, and switching columns with April "The Hockey Mom" Bowling for my annual grenade launch.

All right, that's only partially true. The real reason I asked for this forum is because the topic I want to discuss isn't just about goalies, goalie parents, goalie gear, or goalie coaches. It's about hockey players. All of them. And all their parents. It's about commitment.

I live in a small town north of Boston where the high school nickname is the Generals, after one of our more famous residents, Gen. George Patton Jr. "Old Blood and Guts" was a complex man, a bold wartime leader who could be equal parts condescending, arrogant, brilliant, and loyal. He could be quick to criticize, and quick to praise. He may not be the perfect school mascot, but his ability to inspire, and no doubt his fame, make him a solid choice. In one corner of the high school gym, up by the rafters, is a banner that reads: "General Pride – Tenacity, Spirit, Commitment." That pretty much sums up Patton. But youth sports? I have my doubts.

It's that last quality that really concerns me. Commitment. Part of me can't resist laughing, acknowledging the irony. As a guy who didn't get married until his mid-30s, I was usually on the wrong side of conversations regarding commitment. But, as I always told my mom, I was just waiting for the right woman. Having just celebrated 19 years of wedded bliss with my wife (23 years together!), I've learned a thing or two about commitment.

Which brings me back to youth sports. I've witnessed an erosion of commitment over the past two decades, and I place responsibility for that phenomenon largely on parents. Not every parent, mind you. But far too many parents allow their children to pursue as many pastimes as they'd like, oblivious of schedules. Admittedly, sometimes conflicts are unavoidable, given the lead times when you have to sign up. Other times, however, parents just take a shotgun approach. It apparently doesn't matter how many conflicts are created, or what effect those conflicts might have on the kid's team, as long as Little Johnny or Little Jennifer get what they want. Or what Mom and Dad want (say, skiing every other weekend).

So I'm going to ask you – the parents – to consider something radical. For once, stop and consider the other kids on the team before thinking about your own child. Why? Because it's a "team" sport, that's why. If we should be teaching our kids anything, it's that the team in more important than the individual (a basic tenet of hockey, by the way).

My own experience was pretty straightforward. Mom, who raised six kids, supported any pastime we wanted to pursue, with two crucial caveats. First, we had to keep our grades up. If our schoolwork suffered, the pastimes would go away until we set things right. Priorities. Second, if we made the decision to join a team, we honored that commitment. For me, that meant missing family ski vacations in high school so I could make hockey practices.

Now, the obvious dilemma is the question of "When?" When do you start requiring kids to make a more serious commitment. We want youngsters to have a broad array of experiences, so they can learn what they like best, what motivates them. However, reinforcing this approach during developmental years creates a culture where kids (and their parents) accept that it's fine and dandy to show up whenever they please. I draw the line at middle school travel teams. It's a perfect time of transition, for academics and for athletics.

I've attended countless practices – both on the soccer pitch and at the hockey rink – when only a handful players show up. Games are problematic too, but missing practice is a major stumbling block. The absent kids not only fall behind in getting fit and learning the requisite skills, but they also lag in developing a sense of teamwork. That becomes painfully obvious during games. How many of you have seen everyone suddenly show up for a playoff game, only to realize that the kids don't know how to play together.

Here's another example. This past spring, I was an assistant coach for my daughter's 8th grade soccer team. We had 18 players, 11 of which could be on the field at any time. Seven extra players seemed like a lot, but manageable. During practices, we were lucky to get half the squad, and game-day attendance was a constant question mark.

So, halfway through the season, I wrote a lengthy email to the parents, detailing our shortcomings. I finished with the following: "In short, soccer isn't a game you can 'dabble' in, especially now that the girls are on the big fields. Players who aren't in shape, or don't know where to be, or can't control the ball, or make simple passes, are easily exposed. And I think that's exactly what's happened to us. Former Patriots coach Bill Parcells once said 'You are what your record says you are.' I think our 0-3-1 record is indicative of where we're at. I'd really like to see the [team] turn it around for the second half. But that requires everyone to be all in."

Not one parent replied. At least not directly to me. Instead, one mom wrote to the head coach. That parent's daughter was a quiet girl who wasn't a gifted athlete, but worked hard. When she was at practice. Which, unfortunately, wasn't often. Here's what her mom said: "Many kids do pull on their boots in the spring for the pure joy and sole pursuit of dabbling in the beautiful game. The fast, slow, fit, unfit, tactical and tactically challenged, bring to the field the athletic gifts they have and are willing to share. Increasingly uniquely with no try outs, [the town program] offers all comers the opportunity to continue the experience of team sport. Some choose not to sit, but go out and join their efforts with others, not to win but to take part. And I am proud of all those youthful dabblers who make our town such a joyful and colorful celebration of sport every weekend."

That sounds like a really sweet sentiment, on the surface. I see it differently. I would like that mom to explain to her daughter's teammates why they had no substitutes (including her daughter) during a Saturday game played in 95-degree heat. Not exactly "a joyful and colorful celebration of sport." But that's exactly what can happen with this type of "my kid first" parenting style. What was accomplished by this child missing half of her team's practices and games? Certainly not an "opportunity to continue the experience of team sport."

Of course, this parent probably never gave it a thought. When parents lack any awareness of how their actions affect their child's teammates, they can drag down the entire team. That's wrong.

If you're still with me, I'll emphasize that I believe the hockey season is too long. No question. Many programs and leagues are run by people more concerned about profits than our kids. I understand that, and fully support my local program's policy of encouraging kids to play a fall sport (for the last three years, my daughter's first hockey game was scheduled before her first soccer game; how crazy is that?).

Once the fall season ends, though, I ask my players to focus on the winter sport they signed up for. Make practices, and make the games. If you can't make practices, don't be surprised if your playing time on game day gets trimmed. Because playing time isn't something that's guaranteed just because you show up, or something Mommy and Daddy pay for. It's something you have to earn.


Friday, September 9, 2011

An open letter to hockey parents ...

Hi gang,

With the start of a new youth hockey season, I thought I'd re-visit my first season, when Brynne decided she was going to be a hockey player (one of the proudest moments of my life! She's in the first row, second from the right!). I got tabbed, somewhat blindsided, actually, as the head coach of the Agawam Squirt C squad. Here's my open letter to my parents, which I think also conveys why I think sports -- and hockey in particular -- are so important. Plus, I've always thought of coaching as more than an obligation to our kids ... I see it as an obligation to all the coaches who took the time to teach me, and to the game that has taught me so much over the years. And one that continues to teach me. Let me know what you think!

Welcome to the 2008-09 hockey season

Dear Agawam Squirt C parents and players,

Welcome to another year of Agawam hockey! Sorry this note is coming after our thrilling 3-3 stalemate vs. North Andover, but our staffing came together rather late (or maybe the season came a little too early!). Unbeknownst to me, I was "volunteered" to coach the Squirt C team, along with Jere Moroney, by President Apgar. Still, I welcome the assignment, and am looking forward to the coming season. The energy our kids displayed last Sunday has definitely energized me as well.

First, though, I wanted to echo Lee's earlier letter regarding Agawam's early start date, and the obvious conflicts that arise with fall sports. Clearly, hockey is not the be-all of your child's extracurricular activities, especially in September (my Brynne is juggling soccer, swimming, and lacrosse Fall Ball as well!). All that Jere and I ask is that you keep us posted as to the dates, especially the games, when your child can't attend.

I also wanted to let you know a few things about me, and my relationship to the game. I've played hockey for the better part of the past 40 years, and have coached for the past 12. I work primarily as a senior staff member for Bertagna Goaltending, though I've also coached at the high school (Hamilton-Wenham) and college (Endicott) levels. Simply, I love the game, which is why I still play several times a week, despite having entered my second half-century (and despite a host of nagging injuries), and why I'm thrilled that my daughter Brynne has decided to give it a go.

My philosophy regarding sports in general, and hockey specifically, is pretty straightforward. I think sports are an important, even essential, tool in teaching life lessons: camaraderie, teamwork, discipline, resiliency, respect, and sportsmanship. The fun comes not only from individual accomplishment, but in seeing the team succeed through mutual effort and cooperation. I also believe that children at the Squirt level are fully capable of understanding and appreciating these basic ideals (if not the "life lesson" aspect). As coaches, it's our job to help them with that understanding.

During this season, I hope each child will grow as a player and as a young man or young lady. Confidence, as John Buccigross once wrote, is the single most important trait for a young athlete, and we want to cultivate that among all our players. At this age, I'm less interested with their skill set (and wins and losses), and much more interested in their behavior, both on and off the ice. I hope to create, along with Jere and the other coaches, an environment where each player can thrive within the team concept, which I believe will result in team success. I will move quickly to short-circuit any behavior that isn't conducive to the team: woofing at opponents, showboating, talking back to the refs, or arguing with teammates, to name just a few pet peeves.

I want the Squirt C's to be a team that the players and parents can be proud of, regardless of what our record is. (Don't get me wrong: I like to win as much as anyone, and I'm sure Jim Cabot would be happy to vouch for how testy I can get during our NSSA skates! But I never want winning to trump sportsmanship.)

We will emphasize the basics. Play a north-south game, skate your lane, don't bunch up, cover your man on D, back check, talk to one another, skate with the puck when you're open, and pass to the open man or space when you're not. Everyone will play offense, everyone will play defense, and, yes, everyone will strap on the goalie gear for game or two. Playing every position is the best way I know to foster an appreciation of what your teammates are dealing with.

Last, I welcome input from parents. I understand that coaching youth sports is a delicate balancing act, and not everyone will agree with my approach (or the approach that other coaches might take, for that matter). I promise you this much: I will strive to be as consistent as possible in putting the team interests above the individual interests of any one player. Hockey is, after all, a team sport, and that's why it works so well as a teaching tool for life in general. That said, if you feel that there are issues that need to be addressed, please don't suffer in silence. My door is open.

Many thanks, in advance, for the opportunity to work with these youngsters.

All the best,

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Another hockey season gets under way ...

Hi gang,

Tonight, another hockey season starts up for my daughter Brynne, which means another season of coaching youth hockey starts up for me. I've been coaching for more than a decade now, and I almost always feel like I'm investing part of myself with my "students," whether they're Mites, PeeWees, high school players, college students, even full-blown adults. But when it comes to coaching my daughter, and her friends, the dynamic changes. Frankly, it pulls on the heartstrings a bit more. And sometimes, that's a beautiful thing ... Here's a column I wrote a few years back, about one of those memorable moments.

An uncommon, heartfelt apology

As a youth hockey coach, I get to see, up close and personal, the entire spectrum of human behavior, from kids to parents to grandparents. Much of it, frankly, isn't very pretty. And I suppose some think of me and my Old School ways in the same vein. I take the "iron hand, warm heart" approach to coaching. I don't cut the kids much slack. I want them to enjoy sports, but also want them to respect the game. They need to know that games aren't created for their entertainment; the games exist to challenge them, to help them learn and grow. The enjoyment comes from mastering a skill, from learning that extra effort is always repaid in full, and from sharing a unique camaraderie with teammates.

Still, I oftentimes think most parents don't get this approach. My bride once coined the phrase "soccer day care," and I think that probably applies to youth hockey as well. At least town-sponsored programs. Don't get me wrong; I'm not a fan of the over-the-top, win-at-all-costs approach either. But sports, really, are about challenging yourself, getting knocked on your butt and getting back up, and repeating the process until you succeed. It's not about being pampered, or about the nice gear your well-heeled folks can buy for you. In sports, it's about what YOU can do on the ice. No excuses (despite the fact that we live in an area where parents will make every excuse, no matter how preposterous, for their child!).

But every now and then a moment happens to remind me why I do this. It might be an exhausted smile, a rare "thank you," a spark of recognition that what you're preaching is getting through. Last weekend our Squirt 2 team had a game (at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m., at a rink an hour away) against a squad from Haverhill. Unfortunately for Haverhill, their goalie didn't show, which meant some poor kid without the proper equipment had to stand between the pipes. By late in the second period, with our squad winning 5-0, my assistant coach and I implemented a "three-pass minimum" in the offensive zone (like I said, the other team didn't have a goaltender, and we had no intention of running up the score). We re-emphasized that rule between periods. It was, we said, not only the right thing to do from a sportsmanship perspective, but our players needed work on their passing.

In the third period, one of my defensemen, a burly, likable kid (we'll call him "Bobby," in the interests of anonymity), intercepted a clearing attempt and took a shot from the point without the requisite three passes. My assistant and I immediately agreed to take him off the ice. This is where it gets interesting. I asked Bobby if he understood why I pulled him, and he sheepishly admitted he knew he should have passed. I emphasized that there are times when you have to resist doing what you want to do, and instead do what's right (in this case, pass, so we could be good sportsmen). The boy nodded. A moment later, he mumbled something behind me. When I asked him to repeat it, he said: "I'm sorry, Coach." It was incredibly sincere.

The next time I looked at him, he had tears running down his cheeks. I was really moved ... this young man really cares about the game, and really cares about doing the right thing. I was proud of him. "It's OK, Bobby," I told him. "We're good, right?" He quietly said "yes." And I knew we were.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A positive spin on sports

Hi gang,

A busy day today with deadlines, so I'm pulling this quick-hit profile on PCA founder Jim Thompson out of the archives. My older brother Sean tipped me off to the Positive Coaching Alliance a few years back, after I had a good tantrum about kids behaving badly and how little sportsmanship I saw in youth hockey. The PCA does impressive, and important, work. I've got to believe that if Hobey Baker were alive today, he'd be on the PCA Board of Directors. This Q&A was originally done for Continental Airlines in-flight magazine, back in 2009. Check it out ...

A positive spin on sports
Jim Thompson's Positive Coaching Alliance looks to redefine youth sports

Sixty-year-old Jim Thompson may not look the part, but he is a sports revolutionary. His Positive Coaching Alliance, launched in 1998, aims to transform the youth sports landscape, emphasizing the life lessons that wholesome competition can provide. Today, the Positive Coaching Alliance model has been adopted by many major youth sports organizations, including American Youth Soccer, Little League Baseball, and US Lacrosse. The PAC, in addition to its headquarters near Palo Alto, California, also has a dozen offices throughout the United States, including a number of major metropolitan areas such as New York, Houston, Chicago, Washington DC and San Francisco

What was the genesis of the Positive Coaching Alliance? Was it inspired by a personal experience?
It was a combination of working with emotionally disturbed kids and seeing what could come from a relentlessly positive approach, combined with seeing very high-powered parents driving their kids to distraction in sports.

What are the three major elements of the PAC model?
First is the double-goal coach model, which involves preparing teams to win on the scoreboard with the second, more important goal of using sports to teach life lessons. Next is the triple-impact competitor, who makes himself better, makes his teammates better, and makes the game better by the way he or she competes. Third is the second-goal parent, who lets coaches and athletes worry about winning, and focuses on helping their child take away the lessons that will help them be successful in life.

Ultimately, what are your goals for PAC?
We hope to transform youth sports so sports can transform youth. We want every youth athlete, regardless of their talent level, to have a positive, character-building experience with sports.

What are your biggest obstacles?
The confusion that many people have between professional sports, which is an entertainment business, and youth sports, which is, or should be, about developing youth. Professional sports tends to engender a win-at-all-costs philosophy that pollutes youth sports, and causes the endless procession of teachable moments in youth sports to be too often lost.

PAC boasts an impressive board, including the head coaches of the last two NBA champions, Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics and Phil Jackson of the LA Lakers. Still, professional athletes are often poster children for bad behavior. How do you reconcile that juxtaposition?
The reason so many high-profile athletes, coaches, business and academic leaders have become part of PAC is because they embrace our mission. They see that youth sports have so much potential to benefit youth and society, and they want to see that potential realized. We're very careful about who we affiliate with, because we recognize the pressures that professional sports that cause people to not live up to their own ideals. We're very grateful that so many positive role model athletes and coaches have affiliated themselves with Positive Coaching Alliance.

Given its current scope, are you surprised by the program's success?
I'm reminded of the actor who became an overnight sensation. When people asked him what that's like, he says: "It took me 10 years of hard work to become an overnight sensation." I'm gratified with the success we've had, and I think it's because people recognize the potential for youth sports and we have an answer to achieve that potential. But we have so much more to do.

For more information on the Positive Coaching Alliance, visit

Monday, August 29, 2011

A puck, and a gesture, worth their weight in gold

Hi gang,

It only seemed fitting that our first true installment of "What Would Hobey Do?" would highlight a hockey player. In my work covering college hockey for, I'm fortunate to witness acts of bravery and sportsmanship on an almost nightly basis. But few can compare to a heartfelt deed that Colin Blackwell, a senior captain of the hockey team at St. John's Prep in Danvers, pulled off last spring.

In a simple selfless moment, following what must have been a heartbreaking loss, Blackwell (captured above by old newspaper colleague Kirk Williamson) reminded us that true sportsmanship is alive and well at least in certain pockets of the game. Here's the Reader's Digest version: Blackwell's St. John's Eagles and Malden Catholic went toe-to-toe for state hockey supremacy last March at the TD Garden, home of the Boston Bruins. After regulation, the two squads were deadlocked, 3-3.

With 4:50 gone in sudden death overtime, Malden Catholic junior Brendan Collier snapped a backhander into the top corner, giving the Lancers a hard-fought 4-3 victory and the state championship.

Blackwell, who led all scorers during the Super 8 tournament with 16 points in five games (including a goal and an assist in the final), was undoubtedly crestfallen. The 5-foot-8, 164-pound forward, ESPNBoston's inaugural Mr. Hockey Award winner, finished the season with 33 goals and 33 assists for 66 points, and was a +42 during the regular season, garnering him Most Valuable Player accolades in the Catholic Conference.

But it was Collier who had the Midas touch that Sunday afternoon in March. Until Blackwell proved that champions aren't always measured in terms of wins and losses.

Moments after Collier's strike, Blackwell, stung by the abrupt, decisive end to his high school career, still had the presence of mind to notice the game-winning puck in the back of the St. John's net. Despite the wild celebration of the Malden Catholic players, Blackwell quietly collected the hard rubber biscuit, and handed it to the parents of Malden Catholic senior captain Mike Vecchione, a childhood friend of Blackwell, asking them to make sure Collier got it. Honestly, I still get goose bumps just writing that sentence. There was no fanfare, no television cameras, no Hollywood script. It was just a young man who knew, intuitively, that Collier deserved to have that memento.

I first learned of Blackwell's magnificent gesture when a friend tipped me off to a column by Danny Ventura in the Boston Herald. But since the Herald charges an "archive fee" for any article more than two weeks old, I can instead refer you to a fine article by Josh Zywien for the North Andover Citizen, entitled "An Eagle Stands Tall." Zywien writes how Collier got a hold of Blackwell's cell number, and texted him a simple but poignant message: "Thank you."

"He didn't have my number, so he had to go out of his way to find it," Blackwell told Zywien. "He just said thank you, and mentioned how much it meant to him. I think that said a lot about him, too. He didn't need to do that."

Blackwell also gave Zywien a glimpse into the soul of a true sportsman. "I just knew that if I had scored that goal, I would have loved to have that puck," he said. "You can be enemies on the ice, but once the game is over I've always been taught to respect your opponents.

"Honestly, I don't know Brendan that well, but I know he's a great guy, and it was a great shot, so he definitely deserved to have that as a reminder," Blackwell said. "After you play a game like the one we played, you just feel privileged to be a part of it. I thought it was the right thing to do."

Whoever taught Blackwell, whether parents or coaches or both, should be proud. That Blackwell would think so little of his own gesture, and yet be so grateful for Collier's text message, speaks volumes about this young man from Andover. Hobey Baker surely, somewhere, was smiling.

"It would have been icing on the cake to win the Super 8," Blackwell told Zywien. "But I don't regret anything about that game. It was two great teams, with a lot of great players, and somebody had to win. The atmosphere was unbelievable, and it's something I'll always keep with me."

Harvard hockey coach Ted Donato must be thrilled to have Blackwell joining the Crimson this fall. Even if he only proves to be half the player that pro scouts think he might be – Blackwell was drafted in the seventh round by the San Jose Sharks (194th overall) – Harvard will have a natural leader stepping onto the ice for the next four years.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hobey, simply, would do the right thing

Hi gang,

Welcome to "What Would Hobey Do?" I'm hoping to encourage an active and ongoing dialogue about competition, and the role of sports in today's society.

The idea for this blog has been percolating for quite some time – during my 45-plus years of playing competitive sports, and more recently during my 10-plus years of coaching. But the concept really came to a boil this past spring, as I watched far too many shenanigans during the Stanley Cup playoffs, and again this past summer, when the ludicrous labor squabbles between player and owners in the NBA and the NFL dominated the sports headlines.

Really, is there anything more infuriating than listening to millionaire athletes and billionaire owners whine and complain about how to divvy up the gazillions of dollars generated by professional sports? It's almost as bad as listening to pro basketball and football players constantly woofing at each other, or watching them preen and prance and celebrate after ... every … single … play (which, by the way, they're paid millions to make, but that's a topic for another day).

What really got to me, though, were the Stanley Cup playoffs, the single best sporting event on the planet. The games were fiercely competitive, which I'd expect, but there was more. The games also repeatedly featured hockey players engaging in juvenile behavior – sometimes comical, sometimes despicable – that convinced me that one of my favorite pastimes was going to hell in a handbag. What was the point of all the pushing and grabbing and face washing after … every … single … whistle? It was goofy, macho male BS. Worse were the hits -- ugly, undisciplined shots aimed more at breaking a player's back rather than the breaking up the play. It was not the hockey I was taught, or the game I fell in love with as a youngster.

As a result, I often found myself thinking of Hobey Baker, the fantastically gifted athlete who burst onto the American sports landscape like a super nova in the early 1900s, before World War I. The young Pennsylvania native cut his teeth playing hockey and football at the prestigious St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H., impressing anyone who laid eyes on him with not only his preternatural talents, but also a deep humility borne of an innate shyness.

Baker later moved on Princeton, where his fame reached stratospheric proportions. He was a man, by all accounts (and we will delve into as many as we can find), who never thought of himself first, or considered himself as being more important than anybody else on the team (are you listening, Lebron?). Baker never made excuses, and never retaliated for the cheap shots he endured at the hands of lesser players who were either jealous of his jaw-dropping ability or absolutely frustrated by their failure to contain him. He was gracious to a fault, known to visit the opposing team's locker room after games to personally thank each player.

Baker was, in reality, an almost impossible ideal. Which, of course, made him the perfect candidate, decades after his tragic death as an Air Force pilot at the end of WWI, to be the model for college's "Hockey Heisman." Today, the award given annually to college hockey's best player bears Baker's name, even if the man himself would likely be a bit uncomfortable with the act of singling out one player in a team sport, and undoubtedly embarrassed by the self-serving promotional campaigns that so many schools engage in to get their own players nominated. But that's sports today. Marketing, hype, TV dollars, and a generation of spoiled athletes.

The sad reality is that these attitudes have trickle down to almost every segment of sports. It is a sign of the times. This summer, I was coaching elite level hockey goaltenders, from Pee Wees to professionals, for Stop It Goaltending camps. It was a tremendous group of kids, by and large, boys and girls (or young men and young women) who really got after it. In short, they "got it." But not everyone fell into that category.

The older staff and I regularly compared notes. We couldn't help but be drawn to the youngsters who really worked their butts off, who looked at every moment on the ice as an opportunity to improve. Not surprisingly, these were some of the best-natured campers I worked with as well. Conversely, the coaches would oftentimes lament not only how self-centered other kids could be, but how different they were from many of us. Many wore an unmistakable mantle of entitlement, even borderline arrogance, despite the fact that they hadn't come close to reaching their potential. It's an attitude I can't begin to fathom.

Growing up, I would have gladly sacrificed a pinky finger to be able to attend a camp like this. But, even without that opportunity, I couldn't think of anyone who loved playing sports more. I guess I was one of the lucky ones, a kid whose parents instilled the bedrock attributes that make playing sports important and worthwhile: Hard work, joy, passion, dedication, selflessness, teamwork, and above all else, sportsmanship. Mom and Dad reminded me, without fail, that there were no short cuts. And there were no excuses.

Was I perfect? Not even close. I was no Hobey Baker. But just because you can't maintain a high standard doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Baker set an example that we ought to strive for, no matter how difficult it might be to achieve. And I believe it's my responsibility, as a coach and parent, to make sure that Baker's legacy remains intact. Could there be any more important goal for our young athletes? I don't think so. That's the goal of this blog, to create a vocal community that makes certain that Baker's ideals aren't lost. Ever.

Join me in the discussion!