Saturday, September 12, 2015


Lessons From Behind the Glass-Allyson Tufts

Allyson Tufts is a hockey fan. She grew up with the game in a large family. She married a hockey player. She raised a hockey player. That does not make her much different from many other mothers in Canada. The difference in her case is that she took the time to write about her experiences. She shares the triumphs, the tragedies and the passion involved in the game. She shares with the reader the lessons she has learned, as it says, “From Behind the Glass”.


In the introduction, she writes: “I have to say my toughest love affair has been with hockey”. Growing up, she quickly learned the importance of hockey in the Canadian mosaic. She experienced the excitement of the game as a child watching the Belleville Bulls. Although she does not specifically mention the teams, nor the cities, we can assume that is the case. She also indicates that she has changed the names of the figures in the game. So be it.


Allyson has broken the book down into ten chapters. Essentially, the lesson is that you should let your kids play and enjoy the game. But she also cautions that there are lessons to be learned from the related activities behind the scenes, namely the politics involved in the game.


If you happen to be the parents of a young athlete, you will benefit from a read of this book. Allyson indicates in several situations in the book that it is necessary to step away from the game in order to appreciate it. Move away from the coaches, the managers, the agents, the other parents, even away from the other kids. When players continue to rise in the ranks of hockey, and in other sports as well, the pressures mount, as do the expectations.


As an example, Lesson #2 suggests that you should leave your baggage at home. There are so many situations that occur in the games, and on other occasions with the team that defy explanation. Especially to the parents. The children that do well in sports are expected to climb the ladder in the levels of the games in Canada. One begins at a house league level, rising through a select or “rep” level to play “AA” or even “AAA” depending on the size of the community.


Allyson experienced the frustration dealing with the levels in hockey. I am not letting any cats out of the bag when I write that there are mistakes made in player selection. There are mistakes made in the selection of coaches as well. Certain individuals should never coach. They may know the game. They may have been fine players. But they also may be completely lacking in communication skills, and the abilities required to lead a group of kids. Foul-mouthed immature adults do not belong behind the bench of young hockey players.


I liked the way that Allyson sets out, in each chapter, to present a challenge, then summarizes her results at the end of the chapter. The final chapter is entitled: “Let go of the control-You never had it in the first place.” The conclusion she presents is that getting your child noticed is achieved by how they perform on the ice, and how they present themselves off the ice.


The book is a must read for parents who believe that their child should rise in the ranks of hockey. There are some unwritten rules that need to be followed. The pressures do increase right up to the day of the draft, for players eligible for college or junior hockey. Then there is that tough decision about what fork in the road is the best to pursue.


Ah! The choices of life! If you choose to read this book, there is a copy in the Wellington Public Library.


James Hurst

September 12, 2015. 

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