Thursday, November 19, 2009
By CEAN BURGESON
(For California Rubber magazine)
It’s hard to open a newspaper or turn on the television these days without reading or hearing about Twitter, Facebook, or some other form of social media. The phenomenon continues to grow in popularity and many or our youth hockey players – as well as their parents – are becoming part of this ever growing community.
In the last few years, email has allowed team managers, coaches, and parents to disseminate information about team events, fundraisers, tournaments, or schedule changes in a flash and keep everyone on the same page. The Internet took the whole concept of quick information exchange for youth hockey teams and leagues to the next level, allowing each team or club to have their own website complete with rosters, photos, and statistics for their youth players.
With the advent of web 2.0, even more is possible. There are blogs where people can report on their team’s latest activities and forums where scores can be posted. Forum members can also communicate with people from other teams or other leagues and share information. So Cal and Nor Cal can network with each other, and California hockey folks can meet East Coast or Midwest hockey parents.
I’ve seen some very productive forum topics on the hockey boards with some insightful questions and answers posted. Topics cover everything from coaching styles, advice about off-ice training and camps, as well as all of the latest (and sometimes very entertaining) gossip about local teams and leagues. It’s mostly in good fun and folks tend to stay respectful of each other. Once an interesting topic gets started, the comments begin to fly and you’ll find yourself being drawn to check on the forum every day to catch all of the latest postings. Who will be an A or a B team this year? What tournaments will teams attend? Which kids are playing where? All of this information eventually makes it to the forums.
Facebook is another fantastic social media tool for parents of youth hockey players. We’ve been able to keep up with our friends playing for teams back in Michigan, as well as friends at other clubs in California. On game days, we text each other with scores and share our success stories. We also share video files on web sites like You Tube. My son and I even have our own You Tube show called “Hecka Hockey.”
Social media has allowed the hockey community to become an even tighter knit group in California, and has proven helpful for both parents and coaches. I encourage all of you to explore the web and to see what’s out there. If you’re on a social networking site like Facebook already, see if there are any hockey related pages you can become a fan of like Rubber Magazine. You could even ask your association if you can start a page for your team. The more we can network with each other and share, the more we can help to grow the sport of hockey on the west coast.