The bright lights of the hockey rink can feel like a spotlight on a young hockey player, but when you think about the intense focus that a small town team can endure, it is no surprise that some players do not like the pressure. However, in junior hockey, you sometimes do not have the option, and when you are drafted onto a small market team, the pressure is on. Well in this article we are going to look at how to deal with being the start of a small town.
Remember it is just a game
When you are in a small town, every game can feel like life and death, but the fact of the matter is that we are just talking about hockey. It is a team sport, and even though you might be the star, it all comes back to the team. When you hit the ice, cut the distractions out and have fun. Junior hockey is all about enjoying the game, and even the stars need to get back to the basics and enjoy ripping around the ice and sniping goals.
The media will hound, but relax
No matter if we are talking about the local newspaper or a radio broadcaster, small town media loves to cover the local hockey team. These journalists are looking to make their name in the business and will seek to ask pressing and smart questions. As a star, you will be expected to make yourself available, and media training is not always possible. If you are in this situation, relax and chat with them as you know them. Try to avoid anything inflammatory or said in anger or frustration, media quotes stay with you for a long time, so be smart and relax!
Utilize your support structure if you are feeling overwhelmed
When playing in a small town, your support structure is going to be the key to your success. Whether we are talking about your billet parents, your coach or your general manager, you will need someone to vent to. We are not talking about dealing with some girl issues, but rather, pressures that are on you as the star in a small town. It is going to help to chat with someone, so might as well use the people that are in your corner!
Although the pressure can be immense, being the star in a small town can be an experience of a lifetime. Stars are born in those barns, and when it comes down to it, a star hockey player in a small town should try to embrace it. You have an entire village cheering you on, and when you are in one-on-one with the keeper, it is not just you sniping the glove side, it is the whole town that is there to support you and your team helping you out.
Being a star in a small town can be a life-changing experience, and many players around the country will not get to experience it. Embrace, and focus on the good things about the experience. Now get out on the ice, and play for Smith Falls, Nelson, Lethbridge or whatever small town you end up playing for at the next level!