Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

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Posts Tagged ‘Ice Hockey

Parents sue after kids cut from hockey team

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Greater Toronto Hockey League

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You might expect some gnashing of teeth and rending of garments from me about the state of youth sports in America over the news that parents of two kids cut from their hockey team have sued over that decision. Except that the lawsuits are in Canada, and there are lines to be read between that make you wonder whether this is the culmination of a long, sordid conflict.

From the June 28 Toronto Star:

Two sets of parents are suing the Greater Toronto Hockey League, one of its clubs and four coaches for $25,000 each because their sons were cut by the Avalanche Minor Sports Club midget junior A team during tryouts in April.

It’s the first time parents in the GTHL have ever taken legal action against the league or one of its teams for declining the services of their children, says league president John Gardner.

Even nationally, it’s a rare event.

“We have had very few lawsuits on ice time or (player) cuts,” said Hockey Canada’s Glen McCurdie director of member services. “There are more threats than actual suits.”

Vito Valela and David Longo are both suing on behalf of their sons, Christopher and Daniel respectively. Besides the GTHL, Avalanche Minor Sports president Anthony Iantorno as well as team officials Doriano Pistarelli, Andy Vandenberk, Felice Guglielmi and Peter Posca are named as defendants in the action.

“Their direct actions have caused irreparable psychological damage to Daniel Longo’s self esteem as an impressionable teenager and demoralized Daniel as an athlete and team hockey player with his peers,” the Longo statement of claim reads. “The conduct by all defendants destroyed the dignity of my son, whom in good conscience gave his team nothing but his best efforts.”

Valela’s statement of claim states: “When Christopher was advised of his termination by my wife and I, he vowed never to play the game he loved since childhood. And, moreover, his misguided group of defendants demoralized my wife and I, whom had gone well beyond the call of duty as parents in support of the Toronto Avalanche hockey team for two seasons.”

None of the claims have been proved in court.

Irreparable damage to self-esteem? Sounds pretty pathetic, right? Well, it is.

However, these players are not 8-year-olds. They’re in a league for 15- and 16-year-olds, on the cusp of, perhaps, a pro hockey career. [EDIT: I have come to learn from a former GTHL parent that the league in question is lower-level, with these players having no hope of a pro hockey career.] These parents have probably sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars into their kids’ hockey careers. I’m going to guess that, on some level, this is a fight over recouping an investment. Which is kind of sad in and of itself.

As you read the Star article further, you get the sense that this conflict didn’t just start when the kids were cut from the team.

Both complaints cite that coaches Guglielmi and Posca were suspended for a year by the GTHL for tampering on May 20, 2009 and therefore, the parents claim the men were not legitimately able to advertise themselves as coaches for 2010-2011 season, run the tryouts in April and ultimately cut their 15-year-old sons.

“They terminated my son and the GTHL supported that ‘illegal authority’,” Vito Valela told the Star.

“It wasn’t just that they (coaches) were under suspension,” Longo said. “It was the way they cut them and the method they used.”

However, GTHL executive director Scott Oakman confirmed although the coaches were under suspension, the rules permit any player or team official whose suspensions run past the conclusion of games played in a season to participate in tryouts .

The article doesn’t explain what sort of “tampering” led to a year-long suspension. But by the end of the story, you get the sense that this isn’t about bad, petulant parents who can’t take their sons’ pro dreams are over.

Well, it is about them. But it also is about youth sports politics gone so bad, you find it hard to root for anyone involved in this lawsuit.

Written by rkcookjr

June 29, 2010 at 1:57 am

What you aren't told at sports registration, or Travels with Hockey-playing Charley

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The blog Travel With Teens recently had a few thoughts about a common form of, of course, travel with teens: youth sports. The blog, written by one Mary T, went through the history of how the first sports sign-up turned into a lifetime of Ramada Inns, as if the kid was a guitar player for the Gin Blossoms.

As I headed out the door at 6:15 am for one of the eight youth ice hockey games I expect to attend during this school winter vacation week, I reflected on how the seemingly innocent choice to sign the kids up for “learn-to-skate” at age 5 has shaped our family’s travel choices for the last 10 years.   Over the years, as I have watched friends jet off to the tropics for school vacation week while we packed for yet another holiday hockey tournament in Lake Placid, Rochester NY, Cape Cod, Connecticut, Ottawa or wherever, I have wondered about the road we have chosen.  I will say up front, I wouldn’t change a thing because the confidence, friendships, tenacity and character our kids have garnered from their sports activities, and the family friends we have made, have been worth the trips postponed.  Yet, for those whose kids are still young, here are 5 thoughts to consider as you approach your first youth sports registration table:

And what would those five things be? What dastardly secrets are the kindly volunteers at the OfficeMax-purchased banquet table keeping from you?

  • (1) If your child sticks with a sport for more than a year or two they may likely end up on a travel team.  …
  • (2)  Tournaments are rarely in locations you would choose for a family vacation at that time of year.  Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard are great places, but the hockey tournaments are there in November not July.  The upside is that you will almost always get a break on hotel rates!
  • (3) The more passionate your kid becomes about the sport, the more likely they are to participate in vacation week and summer camps.  Day camps when they are 9, 10 or 11 become sleep away camps as they turn 12, 13 or older.
  • (4) If they play sports in high school, remember that fall sports such as football and field hockey start up several weeks before school, eroding opportunities for late summer family travel
  • (5) The chances of getting a division 1 “free ride” to college in almost any sport is very low so don’t expect that 12 years of deferred travel will be repaid with a scholarship

First, I’m glad Mary T has a good perspective on this. At least she’s enjoying the ride, rather than wondering why she’s pissing away all of her hard-earned money for nothing. Second, I asked my 10-year-old daughter, a three-time All-Star in her house league, whether she was interested in travel softball. She said no. And I am eternally grateful.

That reminds me of the sixth thing they don’t tell you at youth sports registration: that even if your kid shows a little talent, turning over your weekends, holidays and bankbook to a sport is not required — the kid might not be interested, and the parent might not be able.

Written by rkcookjr

January 5, 2010 at 11:39 pm

Drunken hotel melee at youth hockey tournament

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I borrowed the term “drunken hotel melee” from The Globe and Mail of Toronto, which used it to describe a situation in which coaches and parents dropped the gloves in a bar after tournament hours. From the Globe and Mail:

Early Saturday, the head coach, assistant coach and a hockey dad with the Cobourg Minor Hockey League’s bantam team were arrested at a Holiday Inn in Grand Island, N.Y., after deputies with the Erie County sheriff’s department encountered what they described as a “bar full of belligerent, obnoxious, intoxicated Ontario men visiting the hotel while in the area for a kids’ hockey tournament.”

773160242_623bd5c1c1Belligerent, obnoxious, intoxicated Ontario men. Kooooo-loo-koo-koo-koo-koo-koo-koooooooo!

Late Sunday night [Dec. 6], a judge set bail for the men ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 each. It’s unclear if they were able to post the bond and return to Ontario with their 13- and 14-year-old charges.

“It’s a rotten shame,” said Bob Harrington, director of the 38th Annual December Shootout, a three-day hockey tournament in Niagara Falls, N.Y., for young players from the United States and Canada. It was the Cobourg team’s first appearance at the tournament, he said.

“These tournaments are about the boys, they’re about the kids having fun and learning from example how to be good gentlemen, how to work hard for their teams, how to be professional and how to be respectful. What happened here kind of flies in the face of what we’re all trying to accomplish.”

Just for kicks, it would be funny to see some tournament director or coach, after some scuffle involving parents, to say, “Oh yeah, this is totally what we wanted to do. This is the exact message we want to send to the kids: get pissed and fight.”

Apparently in Ontario they’re a bit sensitive about unusually strange or violent hockey brawls surrounding the youth level:

Minor hockey’s reputation has suffered a number of body blows in recent years.

League violations in the Greater Toronto Hockey League last season reveal a pattern of racism, hits to the head and referee abuse, a Toronto newspaper reported yesterday. Several GTHL players were suspended last year for posting discriminatory and threatening messages on Facebook.

A 17-year-old hockey player was charged with assault after an opponent’s spleen was ruptured in a stick-swinging incident during an Ontario Minor Hockey Association game in 2008. Two years ago, the GTHL, Canada’s largest minor hockey league, suspended two team officials after a brawl involving eight-year-old players.

Eight-year-olds cementheads? Man, kids are specializing wayyyy too early. At least let the bones in their hands develop a little more before breaking them.

Hey, all this reminds me, it’s been a little while since I popped in my DVD of “The Tournament.”

Crime and the NHL draft, the aftermath part I

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The other day I wrote about a player in the mix for the NHL draft who is awaiting a July 6 sentencing in Ontario on a manslaughter charge. The player, who can’t be named under Canada’s juvenile court laws, was found to have thrown an opposing high school rugby player onto his head after a match, pinching his spinal cord. The injured player died a few days later.

I haven’t given the player’s name, though it’s easily available to find through a search. However, I will say the player whose name popped up did get drafted — by the New York Islanders. The Islanders beat reporters haven’t picked up anything on this yet, understandable because the focus is on John Tavares, the team’s first pick and the No. 1 pick overall. However, I would expect that after the sentencing, the New York papers are likely to be all over this. Hence, why this post is the aftermath, part I.

Written by rkcookjr

June 27, 2009 at 1:48 pm