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Sunday, January 10, 2016

I am now, officially, a hockey mom.

Or is it a floor hockey mom? I don’t think it matters. My younger son is now playing floor hockey in a small local league, and that makes me a hockey mom, as far as I’m concerned. Maybe there are different of hockey-momness (I’m sure there are), but I’m finally in the ranks. This is a day I’ve seen coming to some extent for just about 12 years now.

I’m pleased, and I think my husband may just as excited as the kid is. This should be fun.

But all the excitement, we have our limits. I was talking to my own parents (who revel in their own new status as hockey grandma and grandpa) and I uttered the following solemn vow: We will not be those parents.

“Those parents?” my mom asked me, amusement in her tone. “Who are those parents?”

Given how much they supported the athletic endeavors of my brother and me when we were kids (swimming for me, a variety of things for him), I hastened to reassure her that “those parents” wasn’t a measure of support or enthusiasm. Not really.

But we’ve all seen them. The ones who don’t seem to realize that these are children out there, or that this is a game. That many coaches are volunteers, and so are many officials. That this isn’t the NHL, but a small local league in which the most important thing, right now, is learning.

As a former sports journalist, my husband has seen and dealt with some stellar (by which I mean, not stellar) examples of the breed. As a former schools reporter, so did I. Never, we promised ourselves. We will never, ever be like that.

We will not yell at the coaches. We will not scream at our child. We will not contradict coaching decisions. If we feel strongly enough about something, we may not register him for the league again, but we will deal with it as mature adults.

I’m all for encouraging my child to do better, to learn more, to play harder. But he’s 7, and this is a game, and he’s still learning the ropes. Do I want him to score? Do I want him to win? Oh, yes. He wants to, too. But right now he’s coming off the floor with his face shining, his hair sweaty and rumpled, and saying “I had so much fun! I want to play again tomorrow!” ... and we’re looking at the 0-6 score and saying, “Great! I’m glad.”

He’s learning to work with a team. He’s learning to listen to a coach. He’s learning the rules and strategy and keeping his commitments. These are all good things. He’s learning to be a good loser. He’ll learn to be a gracious winner. (Eventually.)

It seems like a good league. It seems like a good group. We’re excited. He’s excited. I think this is going to be a good time for all of us.

But this, I promise. We will not be those parents.

+Jill Keppeler is proud to be a hockey mom. And a taekwondo mom. And a track mom. Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler or email her at

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