April 07, 2016 - 9:00 PM
"DAD, I THOUGHT I PLAYED HARD, WHY DID THEY BENCH ME?"
OKANAGAN - A hockey dad, touched last year by the heart-wrenching story of a young West Kelowna boy who quit hockey after being repeatedly benched, was horrified to see his own son reduced to tears by the same treatment.
Last May, we brought you the story of a 9-year-old hockey player who quit his team when his coach kept him on the bench for an entire period with no explanation.
His father’s open letter to the team explaining his decision to quit touched a few hearts — the story was read by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world including Peter McKenzie, a veterinarian from Nanaimo and former minor hockey coach himself. He says he was stunned last month to watch his 10-year-old son reduced to tears at a game in Oliver exactly the same way.
McKenzie describes a similar situation for his son to that of the young West Kelowna player.
"The first period ends with the team down 1-2… second period continues and my son sits watching pair after pair go out while he sits,” MacKenzie writes.
"After being pulled away from the door again, in full tears he pleads with his coach, why? His coach, unable to look him in the eye, has no answer.”
After collecting his distraught son, McKenzie says the young boy broke down in the family van and vented his frustrations.
“Dad, I thought I played hard, why did they bench me? No one would tell me why. I'm done. I don't want to play hockey anymore.”
Stunned by his son's experience, McKenzie says he wavered between letting him quit or encouraging him to suffer through it.
"As a former coach, I am shocked at this coach's complete lack of compassion or respect for my son,” McKenzie continues. “It’s just wrong coaches continue to take these liberties with 10-year-old kids.”
McKenzie says he and his coaching colleagues had discussed the West Kelowna story at length, wondering how any coach could justify their actions.
"Simple communication and reassurance from a coach can make a world of difference to a 9-year-old,” he writes. "We all hoped this article would change the coaching mentality for young kids, and get rid of the minor hockey coaches that think they are coaching in the NHL."
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