Two weeks ago, we started ramping up for the upcoming travel hockey tryout season, putting Colin through some hockey clinics, spending more time out back in his hockey lab and talking about what this season might bring. In little more than an hour, he'll take that first step.
Going into this stretch, we figured he'd try out for three of the four teams within the Tampa Bay area. To us, we set a goal of looking for the best situation, one that combined solid coaching and a good all-around fit. As much as the next few years will likely define just how far he'll go in hockey, having fun is a major component of the plan.
As we started checking out the team's websites and began to receive emails from organizations, it became clear that two organizations would hold their tryouts at the same time on the same day. It seemed a bit foolish, I thought, to have this scheduling conflict. As a result, these competing times would lead families, such as ours, to choose to attend one of the other.
Over the next few days, we made a good vs. bad checklist for each group. We looked at distance to the rinks, perceptions of each program and, most importantly, the quality of the coaching. As we worked our way through this list, we began to realize there was no clear-cut winner. For every plus, there was a minus.
In a bid to break this so-called tie, I reached out to one of the handful of people within our youth hockey circle whose insight I respect. In a way, I was surprised by what I heard. Then again, especially as I digested this information, it wasn't all that surprising.
The second group's decision to schedule its tryouts, made after the first group posted its intentions, was a conscious one. It was a deliberate attempt to force families to choose, rather than letting them try to find the best overall situation by judging each and every program.
That's pretty arrogant, if you ask me. Then again, considering the people involved, I shouldn't have been surprised.
Really, though, I shouldn't complain. It turned a difficult decision into a rather easy one. For us, that group's way of doing things is 180 degrees from what we're looking for.
So, we made our decision and, in a few minutes, will be making a trip to a rink. Honestly, it wasn't that difficult of a decision. Hopefully, Colin puts forth a great effort and does his best. If he makes this team, so be it. He'll still attend another tryout in a couple of weeks, provided we don't commit should a specific invitation comes Colin's way.
It's more important to find a good fit, especially when spending the money, upwards of $3,000 when all is said and done. If he doesn't make either squad, or we don't feel comfortable with the program, it's something we won't lose sleep over.
Either way, he'll play hockey this fall.