I was hoping for some help with a situation on my son's hockey team. My son is as been on the same travel team for 5 years. Each year he tries out and makes the team, he is 12 now. The team has changed some recently and he feels the coach has just "forgot" about him. The coach concentrates on a handful of players with a win at all costs philosophy (both in games and at practices). It is devastating to watch my son's reaction on the bench as these players pass him to go out on the ice and he continually gets shorted. He puts his shoulders down, shakes his head and goes to the end of the line and just stands or sits there. In the past he has tried to talk to the coach (which I can tell you took a lot of courage at his age) and the coach, while courteous, really gave him a non answer, something to the effect he'll make it up to him which never happens.
We have tried what was mentioned on this website (a low key, listen only conversation with him) and we've gathered
He loves to play the game
When we asked him what he likes best he said its when "his line scores"
His coach (he thinks his coach is mad at him or doesn't like him)
Penalties (he doesn't get to play when there are penalties)
When other players he feels are less skilled get placed before him to go out
While these boys are only 12, I recognize it's competitive Tier 1 hockey and I can't change the coach, his philosophy or how he treats my son. He is a talented skater, he never has these issues when he skates with his elite spring/summer team, and in this environement he does well. Which I'm sure is frustrating for him now to go backwards when the season starts.
So my question is...what do I do?
Do I try to pull out of his contract and get him on team that would maybe restore some of his confidence and get some of our money back? (Financially it really is hard to swallow a $5,000+ commitment when he is not getting opportunities he deserves) I also don't want my son to think his parents gave up on him or that it is okay to quit and settle for something else. Do I let him decide? (although that in itself is also admitted quitting is an option). Do I tell him to stick it out and just keep working hard and forget about the coach? He wants so hard to please the coach but with the win at all costs philosophy (which carries through in practices and in games), he will never be given the opportunity to prove himself. We've been telling him to just go out there have fun, make the best of every shift and work with your line mates. It's easier said than done.
I just don't want my son to get lost in all of this, lose his "mojo" and end up giving up on hockey and other sports. He loves it and loves this team that he has been a part of since he was 7 years old. He is a resilient kid, and while pre and post game days are tough for him emotionally, by the next day or two he usually is back to his upbeat, joking around self (a welcome relief to his parents!)
So...if you have any recommendation on how to help me help my son I would be grateful. Thanks in advance.