There were plenty of moments over the course of this years summer program that caught my eye. Sometimes it was as simple as one player encouraging another to keep trying; or a big grin that followed someone picking themselves up after a rather humorous spill. Even something as ordinary and simple as the banter spilling out of the locker room as campers readied for the next practice.
We coaches all experienced things this week that brought a smile to our face. For me watching our former players roll up their sleeves and really give the young their all was priceless. I could sense the sincerity of their desire to really ‘teach’ and ‘share’. Earlier in the week I commented on how ‘animated’ our coaches were. That animation translates into enthusiasm which as we all know is contagious.
You could see it on the campers faces every day. There were the serious faces as our campers tried to get their bodies to perform in ways unfamiliar. There were the tongues hanging out as players put every ounce of effort and concentration into the activity. The overriding sense of joy to simply be doing something they love was visible everywhere.
As a parent I am constantly reminded that ‘learning’ is a two way street. Our children remind us every day of the things that matter if we take the time to listen. Even those of us who have spent decades working and directing hockey schools never get bored. How can you grow tired of watching someone master something new? It’s impossible.
One of the trademarks of our women’s program has been the return of so many talented and enthusiastic UNH players to share their love of the game with our campers. Kelly Paton and Kacey Bellamy are perfect examples. For them, it’s not a job, rather an opportunity to share in the learning process of a young athlete. I know that in both Kelly and Kacey’s lives they’ve experienced working with people that inspired them. They know it’s about much more than just the sport. As the saying goes, you can’t give what you don’t have. In their case they have a lot and that translates into having the confidence and wherewithal to return the favor.
I know from being on the ice everyday with your daughters that were challenged. More importantly though I know that they were watching, listening and absorbing how these young adults carried themselves. I saw first hand their willingness to stop and encourage those who were struggling. I watched them interact with your daughters from one minute to the next. It reminded me just how critical building those relationships are.
A century ago, Mark Twain wrote ” Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.” I wonder if he could have imagined the electronic world of texting and tweets?? Clearly “conversation” has become a bit of a lost art in the world of social media. Relationships are built on conversation. It’s one of the reasons I look for opportunities to force my athletes to put down the phone and speak to one another.
As to the “camp” experience and what your daughters took from this week I can offer one of Thoreau’s observations: “Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing it’s not the fish, they are after.”
I heard much laughter this week. Naturally there were a few tears as well. Some of your daughters wrestled with fear as well; fear of failing, fear of disappointing, fear of not measuring up. But we also watched what happens when someone pushes through those fears and realizes they ‘can do it’. Success is nothing more than maintaining your enthusiasm in the face of failure. That’s a hard lesson, but one I’m sure we all want to instill in our children.
More than anything I loved watching the affectionate bonds that our players make with your daughters. These are accomplished athletes, not that far removed from the world our campers are experiencing today. The ability of these young women to relate to your daughters is so critical. That in itself is a two way street. Your daughters remind these players why they love and devote so much of their time to this game.
I sincerely hope that over the course of the long winter season ahead that some of you can return to campus and take in one of our games. That is an open invitation to all of you and we really appreciate you staying connected, even though we all have busy schedules.
Thanks go to all the coaches who shared their time this week. It takes a team of committed teachers to make a successful program and I was grateful that each of you went above and beyond to make certain that the young campers got as much as they could from the on ice instruction. I’m looking forward to working with all of you again next summer.