Hockey With Heart: The Pittsburgh Mountie Hunters
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We feel like the proud parent on the sidelines.
We love celebrating the accomplishments of our customers. This week we’re highlighting the Mountie Hunters Hockey team and their manager Ralene DeBord who is so pumped about her son’s 9-11 year old team that we can’t help but be excited, too.
So what gets this hockey mom fired up? Here are five reasons.
- 1. Camaraderie
The Mountie Hunters is a Pittsburgh-based Pee Wee Hockey travel team who can easily be spotted by their jersey nicknames and the fun they have on the ice. They are a group of friends who learned how to skate together as little squirts.
Without any formal practices, the boys come together during their regular season in the winter and for holiday tournaments simply to play with their friends. They are on seven different teams during the regular competitive hockey season.
“There are no tryouts, but players have to be invited because it’s more of a chemistry thing rather than if you can score from a blue line type of scenario,” DeBord explained. “There was one child who is older than his teammates, so in order to have him play with the Mountie Hunters, the whole team plays up by two years. It’s more important for these children to play with their friend and to play at even more competitive levels than to stay at their age group and leave him out.”
That is camaraderie. The result?
“We got these kids together and at their first tournament, they won! Outright. It was all because they were having fun with one another. One child throughout the tournament hadn’t scored yet, so the kids kept feeding him the puck during a game where we were ahead until he finally scored. Instead of it becoming a highly competitive situation, theses kids actually cheer for each other; they make this group their own.”
The team has also beat top-ranked Peewee teams in their local organizations and won some top level tournaments.
- 2. Ownership
The Mountie Hunters have seen tremendous success after being encouraged by parents and coaches to take ownership of their team. The kids came up with the name, designed jerseys, picked numbers and chose nicknames on the back. “Traitor” is the nickname for the only Canadian boy and “9-1-1” is for the goalie because it’s an emergency if it gets to him!
The boys put on war paint, choose the pump up music, and have a say in where they travel. Last year, a highlight was to play at Notre Dame’s rink in South Bend.
The team also lets the fans decide the Fan Favorite player. It’s based on the criteria of the best celebration for their teammate, best sportsmanship, or who passed the puck the most.
“It’s an MVP based off of how that person supports the team rather than necessarily what they lit on the scoreboard,” said DeBord.
The team is making this team its own with a group of friends who have each other’s backs.
That is ownership. The result?
It’s their preferred team.
“They say that this is their favorite team to play for throughout the year. And when they are on this team, they own it.”
“They have time off during the holidays, but these kids want to play together at tournaments. They will do skates and skills fun stuff together on their own to just play. In the summer, the team would have practice on outdoor rinks to get ice time together. What kid does that?”
Only kids who enjoy each other and the game are the ones who do things like that.
- 3. Balance
The Mountie Hunters play at a high skill level, but they also know how to have the fun. Head Coach Scott Mark has experienced the Junior Hockey system in Canada and knows what matters most.
“Our coaches know that it’s all about these kids playing pond hockey for fun but in a competitive environment, and that’s also why we win,” said DeBord.
That is balance. The result?
“Especially when they play in Canada, we’ve actually had older teams watch our kids and say ‘Wow, do you remember when hockey was fun? Look at those kids, they are having a ball out there.’”
- 4. Organization
DeBord’s husband was having a hard time coordinating seven different competitive teams’ hockey schedules. The boys didn’t want to play unless they could all be there.
“I own hockeymom.com and a mom emailed me about TeamSnap on there,” said DeBord. “It now does everything for us!”
Their favorite feature allows them to know each Player’s Availability for potential tournaments. Her husband lists the tournaments the athletes are interested in and right away they can tell what is feasible based on everyone’s availability.
That is team organization. The result?
“Without TeamSnap, we’d have no team. These kids would just be on their individual teams and not be with all their friends. After their first season, every single parent came to the manager’s meeting and the consensus was, ‘We have to keep this up.
This is where these boys have fun. But without TeamSnap, we can’t do this.’”
- 5. Life skills
“The coaches teach the boys that it’s not necessarily the guy that gets the glory, but it’s the guy that helps him build to the glory,” said DeBord.
A player in practice may have four defenders on him, so the coach will ask, “Who’s responsible for this guy’s back? You’re leaving your guy out to dry. You need to understand that in life, if you don’t help this guy, the whole thing can fall apart.”
That’s what sports are about right there. The result?
“We get to experience hockey with friends and without politics or pressure for the boys. But, if we didn’t have TeamSnap, this isn’t happening,” she said.
Add in a dash of fun, some team wins and playing hockey with heart, and the result is one fired up hockey mom!
Jenny Hadden is the Web Marketing Manager at TeamSnap. She was a four-time Academic All-American gymnast at Stanford University where she received her BA and MA in Online Media Studies. Jenny is currently a mentor for young female athletes, a volunteer for Positive Coaching Alliance and Athletics & Beyond youth organizations, and is a wanna-be pro-snowboarder. Contact her at @JennyMHadden.