What it Means to be a Goalie Parent

By Allyson Tufts
Author, Speaker, and Passionate Hockey Mom

If I had a dollar for every time another hockey parent would say to me, “I could never handle being a goalie parent, I don’t know how you do it?” I’d be rich right now. My standard answer has always been, “I don’t do it well.”  Don’t get me wrong I am my son’s number one fan and have always been so proud of him.  I admire his willingness to stand in net and not only face all the pucks coming his way but also face the scrutiny that comes along with being the last line of defense. 

Being a goalie parent means facing so many emotions during a game, many of which are incredible, and some are very stressful. It’s hearing other parents tell you that your child needs to focus for the “whole” game at the age of six, seven, and eight. Unfortunately, at that age daydreaming is as much a sport as hockey is.  Parents that would yell “pay attention” when my child was in Novice (learning to play for the full 45 minutes) seemed to forget that their child had also lost focus during their 40 second shift.  

Being a goalie parent also means that you’re going to go into games armed with the knowledge that you’re either going to watch your child full of confidence because he or she made that big save, or full of heartbreak because he or she let in the goal that cost the game? It means spending time in the parking lot during a playoff game because you just can’t bear to watch. It’s knowing that you can’t buy that new living room furniture because the cost of their pads is going to be equivalent. Each year you settle for new throw pillows for your house content in the knowledge that your child is protected in net. It’s constantly hitting the stranger sitting next to you because your busy making imaginary saves from the stands. On a really bad day it’s overhearing the other parents say they hope it’s the other goalie in net for the next game. Worst of all, it’s the looks of sympathy you get after your child has had a bad game. That tilted head, sad eyed look from the other parents who are thanking God their child isn’t the goalie. 

Yes, these things are many of the challenges of being a goalie parent but they don’t come close to the joy and the pride that’s also felt each time they take their spot in net.  There is nothing like watching your young net minder skate on to the ice engulfed in that equipment for the first time.  Their little legs stumbling to get to their crease just to fall down once they come to a stop.  The feeling when they make that first save and celebrate while the play is still going on.  The look of the bright red cheeks and smiling eyes through that mask that makes them feel like they’re a super hero. As they get older it’s the joy of watching your young goalie spring from the butterfly in a split second and make that incredible save to keep their team in the game. It’s the pride you feel when you watch your child cheer on their team from the bench knowing they aren’t the starting goalie. Yes I have to say there is nothing quite like it!

So the next time you see a goalie dragging their equipment into the rink I would ask you to consider this, they made that team by competing for only one of two spots, they are required to be at their best for the full game, there are no short shifts for a goalie, their equipment is heavier than everyone else’s but they’re expected to have cat like reflexes, and most importantly if they make a mistake EVERYONE will notice. Yet in spite of all these challenges young players still want to strap on the pads and take their spot in net to be that last line of defense.  

As a goalie parent, it’s true I see the game in a different way and tend to get defensive when I hear people describe goalies as “weird”.  I guess that’s because, in my experience, I would describe them very differently. My description of a young player that makes the decision to be a goalie would be that they are brave, strong, and resilient. So, the next time someone asks me what it’s like to be a goalie parent, I’ll proudly say, “There’s nothing like it and I wouldn’t change it for the world.” 

To learn more about Allyson Tufts and her book Lessons from Behind the Glass go to www.lessonsfrombehindtheglass.com. 

To purchase a copy of her book, go to amazon.ca.

This article is the property of Allyson Tufts and is not to be used or changed without her permission.