Letter from hockey coach to 8 year old hockey player

The resulting post below was inspired by an email my 8 year old son Ben sent to his coach upon finding out that he was nominated and will be awarded the Most Valuable Player award on Saturday, despite the fact that his team was eliminated and in 4th (last) place during the House League Season. His coach responded to Ben’s email with the most heart-felt commentary, I just had to share it. A copy of the email (with certain names taken out for privacy reasons) is at the bottom of this post.

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Top Team Scorer for Novice House League

Top Team Scorer for Novice House League

Sometimes, parents of children who play hockey get a bad reputation. It may be because a parent’s inappropriate behaviour was somehow captured and posted to social media that makes others think that all hockey parents act this way, or it may be because someone’s passion over his kid’s team winning or losing gets the better of him (or her). There are a lot of reasons why sometimes parents’ behaviour may reach levels that could be interpreted as ‘too much’ by some.

Often the biggest judgements come from people who have no experience with hockey, or who have no kids in hockey. I’m the first to admit that here, in Canada where we live, hockey, especially kids in hockey, can and does result in very passionate behaviour. It is highly emotional for the parents to watch their hockey-obsessed kids play Canada’s game. Emotional in a happy, proud and enjoyable way.

I’m a hockey mom. I spend a lot of time taking my now 8 year old kid to hockey. We spent the last eight month at some rink up to four times a week. It’s been very busy, very active, and very fun.

It’s been SO MUCH FUN.

So when the House League season ends on Saturday, we will be attending the final gold and silver medal game so Ben can cheer on his friends. Some of his friends who play in the two competing teams make up his Select, competitive team with the other league he plays for. The Select team Ben belongs to is still in playoffs, and that may or may not end on Sunday (depends on if they win then). But for the House League teams, this coming Saturday will be the big finale. The final day of House League hockey.

The two teams that did not make it into the gold and silver game, 3rd and 4th place, will be present on Saturday. An email went out to all the parents of all the players in all four teams listing the names of the children who will be winning special awards. Some of the awards they’re giving out, after the silver and gold medals are handed out to the winning teams, are, for example:

Most Dedicated
Most Sportsman Like
Most Improved
Outstanding Team Goalie

The kids of the eliminated teams were invited to come cheer on the other two teams and to wear their respective jerseys, especially those who will be accepting awards. Hot dog coupons will be handed out, and a celebration will ensue that will, hopefully, allow all kids who played in House Leagues this season enjoy their final day with their League.

A big emphasis is made to be inclusive of everyone. All the kids who participated are part of the League.

Benjamin was nominated the top honours. When his coach mentioned this to us, we were under the impression (as was he) that he will be getting the Most Valuable Player award based on just his team. In fact, he is getting the only Most Valuable Player award of the whole Novice division (age group 7-8); it represents all four teams in House Leagues.


So when I mentioned this to Ben, he was very surprised. He knows his stats (the league keeps stats on all the players, as well as the teams), and he is the second top scorer for the league. In his mind, the boy who scores the most goals should be awarded the Most Valuable Player medal.

I asked him to send his coach an email. I had to send the coach some additional information anyway, and thought it might be nice if Ben send Joe a message. This is what he said:

Hi Joe,

I was so surprised I was voted MVP. I thought it was number 2 [name of boy who scores the most goals]. Thanks for voting me.



His coach responded to Ben with an explanation that will hopefully demonstrate a message that scoring goals in hockey is not the only thing that matters. Scoring goals is a tangible, countable way of measuring wins and losses, but it’s not the only element that matters. Joe explains it in terms that hopefully not just 7 and 8 year old kids will understand, but parents of little hockey players too. Here is coach Joe’s eloquently put response to Ben:

Hi Ben,

There are many things that goes into being a Most Valuable Player than just goals.

It’s how your team feels about having you around, it’s how your coach can depend on you to do other things other than score, it’s about how the other teams feel when you are on the ice, it’s about your passion of the game and how you act on and off the ice. And as a young man you will never stop learning about these things you will get better and better as you get older. Never think you know everything, be open to always accepting a lesson.

All these characteristics is what makes a good player a great player and a young boy a great man. Don’t forget that !!!


How nice is that? How humbling, that my boy admires the top scorer in the league enough to expect him to get an award! And how nice of Joe to take the time and write such an effective, remarkable email to Ben.

We’ll see what happens on Saturday. Should be a celebration. And then….Select hockey playoffs continue on Sunday.

As I said, I’m a hockey mom. A very proud hockey mom!

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