travel sports problems

kclvJanuary 17, 2007

Hi everyone.

I usually frequent the home forums, but I am frustrated about my sons' travel sports teams, and I need input from other sports parents.

Both my sons, aged 16 and 14, play travel hockey. We live in a southwest city where hockey is not too popular, so playing the sport involves a lot of travel, and the cost of ice time is very high.

I do understand that our commitment to the team involves travelling and missing the occasional school day for regular league play, but the coaches tend to schedule extra tournaments without asking the parents beforehand. I feel that this is wrong. Anything extra outside of regular league play should be voted on by the parents. After all, these are our kids, and we are the ones paying for everything.

Does anyone else have the same problem?

I have tried to tell the team mom that we need to vote on these things, but she defers to the coach. We are going to an east coast tournament in April one week after spring break. We were told about this in December after the non-refundable deposit was sent. The majority of parents are less than enthusiastic about the trip, and if a vote had been taken beforehand, I doubt we would be going. This has had a snowball effect, as the season ended on Sunday, but we have to schedule extra practice time, and trips to stay in shape for April.

I am so frustrated. I tried to tell the team mom that the majority of parents are tapped out and don't want any extra trips, but she just says the coach wants the boys to "stay sharp", because they have a good chance of winning in April.

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"but the coaches tend to schedule extra tournaments without asking the parents beforehand. I feel that this is wrong. Anything extra outside of regular league play should be voted on by the parents. After all, these are our kids, and we are the ones paying for everything.

Does anyone else have the same problem? "


My son played travel hockey, and we were always consulted before ANY deposit was made for a tournament.
AND, even if the majority wanted to go, we were always given the option of staying home without repercussion.

Are you the only one speaking up?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2007 at 7:57PM
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Others have spoken up, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. The boys won their league championship, so the coach is very gung-ho about continuing the season. He is a good coach, but he is young, single and has a flexible job. He just doesn't understand that for most of us, hockey is an extracurricular activity, and we have lives and other children to deal with. Also, for a few of the boys on the team, this is their last year playing, so they want to go out with a bang.

Unfortunately, it is a small organization, and there are more kids than spots on the teams. Parents tend to go with the flow, because they don't want to jeopardise their kids' chances of continuing to play.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 2:05PM
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I can't imagine that would work around here. There are VERY strict rules about missing school. It takes very few missed days without a doctor's written explanation before children have to repeat a grade. Have you talked with the principal and teachers? Are they concerned about your child missing class time?

It's just my opinion, so take it for what it's worth...but as wonderful as team sports can be in shaping a child's attitudes and values (not to mention biceps and deltoids), the first outside job your child has is to get a basic education.

Is this team connected with the school? If not, I wonder why your boys haven't been severely penalized for missing class.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 10:00PM
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Missing school days just for sports. Sorry that wouldn't happen in our home. An education is so much more important.
Have you at any time just talked to the coach himself instead of the team Mom? How about missing a few of the extra tournaments. Maybe if the families started not going to the "extras" the coach would start taking you seriously. Because it sure doesn't sound like he cares about all the money and your own personnal family time lost so far. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 9:21AM
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Thanks to everyone for your input.

I am very concerned about missing school. Actually, they have only missed a couple of days this year, and both boys are good students who have no trouble making up missed assignments. They were told at the beginning of the year that if their grades suffered they would be done, and they have kept the grades up.

Our school district allows for pre-arranged absences where the kids get the work they will be missing from the teachers beforehand. When they hand in the assignments, the absence is excused.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 11:47AM
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In our school district the teachers will not give the children the assignments before hand. They must get the assignments after the fact and then play catch-up. More than two days absences in a row requires a doctors note.

I would definitely speak up directly to the coach, forget about polling the team mom. There are those who take the sports thing entirely too seriously. They are kids for chrissakes.

Glad to hear your son's grades are good. Kids can gain so much confidence by being on sports teams. Just don't become a rabid driven sports parent who has visions of their children being a professional athlete someday.

Sports are supposed to be fun and confidence building. Lets keep it that way. parents!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 3:18PM
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I am definitely NOT a rabid sports parent. I have absolutely no illusions about my sons playing pro hockey someday, or even getting a scholarship, for that matter.

The only reason they are even playing travel is because there is no decent house league here, and they both love the game so much. It keeps them in good shape, and out of trouble.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, another month and the season is over.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 11:29AM
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"but the coaches tend to schedule extra tournaments without asking the parents beforehand. I feel that this is wrong. Anything extra outside of regular league play should be voted on by the parents. After all, these are our kids, and we are the ones paying for everything.
Does anyone else have the same problem? "

Yes...we have also had this problem. In the past we had a coach who planned tournaments at the beginning of the year so we all knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into. He also only booked one tournament per season that required a stay in a hotel. It was great. This year we have a coach who is throwing tournaments at us at the last minute. One almost fell through until he until he told us that the tournament was already paid for and we couldn't get a refund. IN the end we all agreed to go. I don't know what the answer is because once a coach gets a team it seems he can act like he answers to no one. I just love it when you get a coach who seems to understand that we are normal people, not millionaires who live for hockey. WE have families we'd like to spend Christmas with or celebrate a birthday with.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 8:54AM
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My kids have played on travel lacrosse teams. And regardless of whether making the trips out of state were mandatory or not - the coaches put a lot of pressure on the kids to make it. Which, if they are enjoying it isn't so bad, but if not, its a problems

    Bookmark   February 27, 2007 at 2:23PM
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Hi Mapletex. I definitely feel your pain when it comes to travel hockey, and my kids are only 8 & 5. My older son is on a Mite A team, the younger one on house, but he'll try out for travel next year. Like yours, our organization is successful and has a reputation for high expectations. Because of their record, hundreds of kids try out each year, and parents are definitely made to feel that they can't rock the boat or they'll be blacklisted.

All of our tournaments are mandatory, and tournament fees aside, are costly in terms of hotel, travel and food. Not to mention stressful. No tournaments are added without parents' approval, unless it's a part of larger tournament, like the Silver Sticks, where if you win locally you move on to the regional tournament. And even with that, you know going in that if your kids win you'll need to find a way to make it to Detroit, or wherever. Hockey is a large part of our household budget and an unexpected tournament would wreak havoc on our finances.

While it may be too late for this year, you should work to have it added to the organizations laws for next year. If not, bring it up at the beginning of the year parents meeting. If you clearly state what's expected in terms of tournaments, the coach will have a hard time throwing one at you at the last minute.
I also initially had a problem with my son missing school for tournaments. Particularly since my kids are in private school and I see each missed day as a financial loss. This year, it has only happened 2 or 3 times and the teacher has been very cooperative. My son is only in 3rd grade, but understands that missing school for sport is a huge deal, and a privilege that needs to be earned. He has to keep his grades up, behave and take on extra assignments in order to prove that he can handle both.

The joy he gets from playing and being a part of the team is clear from the look on his face after a win and even the pain of a loss is ephemeral. I can easily see the benefit of being a part of this team, but it's something I am constantly evaluating because of the financial, emotional and time demands. If it ever knocked our family out of balance I would pull the plug on hockey. My biggest issue is making sure that his coaches are appropriate role models and always emphasize hard work and fair play over winning. Unfortunately, not always the case.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 1:48PM
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My sons are done with this organization.

The rink is privately owned by an independently wealthy man who has a 16 yr old son. He is a competent hockey player, but no superstar. However, since Daddy owns the rink, he is always the first player on the roster of the highest tier team for his age level.

After last season, Daddy decided to reorganize. He bought a junior team, so his son will have a place to play when he moves up. He also changed the name of the organization, and is trying to create elite teams at the midget level. He is bringing in players from out of town to fill out the roster. He has doubled the cost of the monthly dues, hired coaches, and put together a very aggressive travel schedule. He has strongly suggested that players attend online high school to acomodate the heavy schedule. All of this was done without consulting the parents. It was presented to us as a done deal.

Unfortunately, his grand vision is running into some problems. Tryouts were held in July for the midget 16 and 18 teams. After the 16 tryouts, the kids were given letter of intent, which were to be signed within 24 hours, and returned with a large ($500) non-refunable deposit. Needless to say, not many letters were signed. The following week,the at tryouts for the 18 teams there were not enough players to form 2 teams. They decided to consolidate the 16AA and 18AA teams. Six players are kids who are moving directly from bantam to 18! A team meeting was held to discuss the issue, and although many parents voiced concerns, they really didn't answer any questions. They failed to provide an itemized breakdown of where the money was going, did not have a roster, or any firm schedule, although they did mention that the team would be strictly a tournament team. They went on to mention at least 4 very expensive trips planned, all requiring plane tickets. After all this, they said that if the letter of intent was not signed within 24 hours, there was no guarantee that there would be a place on the team for the players.

But the absolute worst was that when the teams were consolidated, 4 players were cut. These people had already given their deposits, and they were NOT INFORMED about being cut. They were not invited to the team meeting, and only found out after the fact, when parents attending the meeting called them. The organization did not even have the decency to inform these players and parents beforehand.

Needless to say , I refused to sign the contract. My sons will be playing at another rink across town. It is a smaller organization, with a less aggressive schedule, offered at half the cost. It is considered to be second-rate in this town, but I really don't care. Enough is enough.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 2:30PM
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