This year I did something I’ve never done. I quit coaching a hockey team before the season was over. It’s not something I thought I would ever do, but the situation was never within my control.
My husband and I have spent the last 3 years coaching together with the same association, on the same Bantam AA team. We’ve put in extra hours to build a program we could be proud of; a program that would help players become the best version of themselves on and off the ice. And we’ve had a lot of success. We’ve lost count of the number of families who have called, emailed or talked to us about how much of a difference we’ve made in their kid’s life.
This year was different. It was never as passionate, never as rewarding. There was a lot more chaos, negativity and struggling. It wasn’t necessarily the kids’ fault. But a handful of families were a big problem. And the association left us hanging out to dry. No support, no one responded to our emails, no one even asked our side of the story (or the 90% of happy parents on the team) before handing down discipline. After 2 great years, and not a single complaint to the association, you’d think they would have noticed that it wasn’t normal for people to file formal complaints, and they would maybe have called us to see what’s up. While that might be a terribly written sentence, it is accurate. We had never caused them any trouble, never had any major issues. But they never gave us enough respect to talk to us.
First my husband was suspended (still don’t know what for), then he resigned. I continued to go to hockey for 2 more games and one more practice. The association told me they didn’t think I had the integrity or professionalism to continue coach with what happened with my husband. They would let me stay, but would be assigning a babysitter to monitor me for the rest of the year. I slept on it, but realized that what makes me a good coach is that I’m honest with myself and with the kids. That I care passionately about them and about teaching. With a babysitter, I couldn’t be myself, and therefore couldn’t coach. I submitted my resignation the next day.
It’s amazing what a relief I felt. I worked so hard and put everything in my life on hold. My husband and I both did. I celebrated every one of my birthdays in some lame Canadian town at a hockey tournament, or at practice. We arranged our vacations and breaks around hockey. Always back for the last week in August when evaluations start, always freeing up our spring for camp. Then there is Christmas. They really don’t give kids enough time off anymore. And if the kids don’t get time off, neither do the coaches.
We spent years going to the rink to bask in the glory of the small victories. That kid that you finally got through to. The player who stepped up his game and moved into your top line. The shy player who opens up to the team. Sometimes, there’s even a kid who represents everything you stand for. I wrote a blog about that player here. Everything you put into coaching turns into someone’s success. It’s a great feeling. But at some point, you notice that you’re not getting as much out of it. Or that you really have to reach for those small victories. Maybe it’s the kids, but most likely it’s you. In this case, it really was me. I don’t know if I was resentful, but walking away was pretty easy once my resignation was in. Until that point I was sick to my stomach and couldn’t eat for days.
Once I was away from hockey I realized how enjoyable life is when you aren’t so busy running around to the next event on your calendar. When you actually have time on the weekend to do a couple chores AND relax AND cook brunch AND go to the dog park. Who knew how many hours there actually are in a weekend? Oh yeah – everyone else. The freedom I feel is pretty cool. The day I submitted my resignation for hockey, a great new opportunity opened up at work. Now I have time to take that on and won’t be overwhelmed. If I still had hockey, it would be tough to commit to another 5 hours of work a week. But now, I can work every night for a few hours and still have more free time than I had before. So on the weeks where I don’t work any extra, It’s incredible.
Also, we can now actually pursue the most important thing to us, our family. For years, we’ve had surrogate children in the kids we coach. We got to impart our wisdom on this kids, share experiences with them, help them grow and watch them fail before succeeding. But at the end of the day, the house was still empty when we got home. In fact, back in early 2014, the US Exchange rate was so good that we could have gone on our trip to DC. But we didn’t, because we had hockey. Now, because of the exchange rate, we can’t afford to go until the dollar comes back up. It’s no big deal, we’ve waited this long. But when I step away and look at it, I realize that we passed up opportunities that were incredibly important to us personally, so we could continue to coach. Now that I see how disposable we were, it’s easy to feel like it was all a mistake. It wasn’t; a lot of good came from us coaching.
But now that we’re out, I’m going to make the most of it. I’ve already lost 7lbs. I promised by doctor I’d lose 10 by the end of March, which shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, I’m hoping to lose 15 by then. And then more, so my body is in perfect IVF-ready mode. Without hockey we have time to cook meals and exercise, things we couldn’t do before. I’ve been spending more quality time with my husband so when we do finally have a family our relationship is rock solid and can handle anything that’s ahead of us.
I’m taking time for myself, and it’s amazing. So this is the life I’ve been missing!