Last night was Jordan’s last week of his first round of Hockey School at Mount Lebanon Rink. The next session has not been scheduled yet, so we have some time off coming our way. Sort of. He is now back at Ice Castle for Level 2 skating. He completed Level 1 in February and started at the Hockey School while we waited for the skating lessons to open back up.
This week the kids did their evaluations with the coaches. There were six skills that Jordan was graded on. He passed 50%. I didn’t expect him to pass them all. He is still so young and because of his age and size relative to the other kids, I will repeat him in level 1 Hockey School anyway. I may also start looking for different options with programs (suggestions are certainly welcome!).
One of the dads and I talked for awhile while we watched the kids get evaluated. We agreed on one thing for sure: this program was not what we hoped. There are not enough coaches for the amount of kids on the ice. They don’t receive enough personal attention. We found that when a child is struggling to pick up a new skill, that rather than stopping to help that one child, they are rushing them along and telling them “Just go,” rather than stopping and taking the time to work with them.
That’s not to say that I didn’t see Jordan receiving any personal attention, because that is simply not true. What I am saying is that he and a few of the other kids who were clearly brand new to the sport were left behind and did not receive the proper amount of attention to help them to be successful. I am paying you to teach my son, not dismiss him and move on when he cannot complete a task.
The dad I was talking with’s son will be at Ice Castle with Jordan now on Saturdays, so he will have a familiar face since he started getting to know some of the kids.
The only part of the last session that wasn’t so great was that Jordan got high sticked in the face through his cage. The coach brought him off the ice to me. Issue I have with this: she told me he needed to blow his nose. Yes, he did. But he was CRYING. She didn’t tell me that one of the kids sticked him in the eye (which I later found out from Jordan once he calmed down that it was likely an accident). I got his helmet off of him and looked. Minor scratch on his face, he was more just upset than hurt.
But I felt horrible. He didn’t want to finish the evaluation, so I didn’t make him. Got him calmed down, changed, and we waited for the coaches to come out and give me his eval form.
He told me in the car on the way home that the boy had been punching him in the helmet, so I somewhat question if the stick in the face was actually an accident. But this is why I believe that 2 coaches for 20 small children is simply not enough. They are doing evaluations on one child at a time and the rest are getting rowdy and impatient and well…high sticking each other in the face. I saw some of the kids tapping each other on the helmets with their stick blades. Some were rough housing. They’re kids. That’s what happens when you make them wait.
A better system is needed. Have another coach keep them occupied doing something while they wait their turn to be evaluated. Letting 18 kids aged 4-8 with sticks and skates hang around for an hour doing nothing…well you are just begging for trouble.
Jordan’s overall experience was positive. He is very excited to return to his ice skating lessons at Ice Castle and wants to do the hockey school again. He had fun. It’s been really good to have him around other kids his age and being active. I will be looking into other programs though to see if there is something better organized. (I was informed by the dad I was talking to that last week that we missed there was only 1 coach and it was complete chaos.)
So this series is now on pause until hockey school resumes. If anyone has any suggestions for programs in the Pittsburgh area for a 4 year old, I’d greatly appreciate it! Also, in desperate need of equipment that is small enough for the little man! Having an issue finding hockey pants small enough and jerseys.
Thank you everyone for reading this series! Suggestions are always welcome from other parents who have been there, done that!