Arizona Rubber

Arizona’s and New Mexico’s Authoritative Voice of Ice and Inline Hockey

MISSION STATEMENT: Today’s children must learn failure to learn success


I always said I should do a case study of how kids are changing as I have been working with the same age groups for 20 years now. Here is what I have noticed over this time period.

Instant Gratification

On a recent morning, my daughter was looking up phrases in Swahili just because she could. One click and the info was spit right back at her. This technology is translating to our kids and athletes. Hockey, and sports in general, is a constant process of growing and working. There is nothing instant about the success, and sometimes this is tough for this generation to grasp.

They are so used to getting everything at such an accelerated pace that we are slowly beating the work ethic out them. The concept of mastering a craft, I fear, is being lost and no app or gadget can replace hard-working hours on the ice or in the gym.

Ability to Deal with Adversity

I have never met a successful human being that hasn’t had a well-rounded past where character was obtained by tough life situations or circumstances. These struggles have made them whole and used a major resource to motivate them to do something great.

As parents, we all want to protect our children and keep them from life lessons, but we also realize is it these very lessons that make them better people. I always talk to Mission folks about how hockey, if used correctly, is a safe place for children to learn tough life lessons in a controlled and safe environment.

Competition brings out strengths and weakness and it’s OK to lose and it’s OK to win. I see so many kids starting to miss this idea. It starts with everyone receiving medals in events. I understand the self-esteem argument, but once again, what we are doing is truly beating the essence of competition out of sport. If kids never lose, than they never have to truly deal with any adverse or tough situations. In the end, we are creating a culture where the actual strive for greatness is starting to disappear. Failure promotes character and growth.

Emotion and Communication

Kids flat out have lost their ability to talk and communicate. They can text and put things down on a computer, but when it comes to actual conversation, I have seen a decline in young people being able to communicate. It is tough to have to sit down and face fears or tough situations, but that is a part of life.

I see more and more robotic kids that aren’t in touch with their emotions because they are never forced to use them. Hockey is an emotional sport, and a smiley face after a text isn’t going to cover it.

Hockey – the Ultimate Team Sport

Hockey players have always been hard to market. They are usually selfless individuals who throw the respect and props back to their teammates.

The NHL has really made a push to start to market individuals and this is starting to show up in the youth game. Kids and parents seem less concerned with overall team progress and the focus has become the individual and what they can get out it. The more individual-focused this game becomes, the more our kids are going to lose what this game can teach.

Being a part of team takes humility, accountability and sacrifice for the betterment of the group. I have seen a significant change over the past 20 years as the attitude or focus is becoming more about the “I.”

This game will always be the greatest teacher and gateway to a better human being, but I will tell you as the years go by, coaching jobs are going to get tougher and tougher to keep the very essence of what is important at the forefront.

Jeremy Goltz is the program director for Mission Arizona.

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