It’s August. The Kings have nobody left to sign. The odds of the NHL season starting on time don’t seem very good. But most of the rest of the North American hockey world — by which I mean juniors, college and youth hockey — has already started their camps and practices, or (in the case of college) is getting ready to start.
Quisp Jr’s first year of squirts officially began this week with his first team practice. (To maintain his anonymity — required by my wife, and always a good idea when dealing with kids on-line — we’ll just say he’s on a squirt travel team somewhere in SCAHA — the Southern California Amateur Hockey Association. He also wears a big pin-wheel hat, if that narrows it down any.)
I played youth hockey back in what I like to call the pre-Velcro era. If there is a lock-out, I will probably talk about what that means in some detail. The pre-Velcro era was also, for kids my age anyway, one in which Gatorade was seen as a disgusting salty beverage that looked like anti-freeze and was to be avoided at all costs. There was no weight-training (remember when people thought lifting weights was bad for hockey players?), no dry-land, no power-skating, and the only sports drink I ever saw in ten years of travel hockey was unfiltered tap water, in one of the coach’s three or four communal water bottles. No-one had his own bottle with his name on it. That would have been like bringing your own puck. And the only advice or instruction I ever received about hydration is have some water when you come to the bench, and don’t put your lips on the bottle. And I can remember one coach who advised us that the proper use of water on the bench was to rinse your mouth and spit over the boards.
In those days, even in gym class, hydration wasn’t an issue at all. It was just assumed that if you exercised, or if it was hot outside, you would get thirsty and seek out something to drink. In school, including in P.E. class, this involved getting a drink from the lead-piped drinking fountain after class. Then, as now, most such fountains were barely functional.
But I digress. It’s 2012. Eight year olds train year-round. They do dry-land. They are subjected to “bench-marks” and video analysis. They all have their own water bottles with their little names on them. In the one year since my child started playing, he has gone through roughly two dozen water bottles. It’s not that they get worn out. They just disappear. For a fun exercise, next time you’re at a rink, go to the lost-and-found and ask if anyone has turned in a water bottle. The annoyed employee will reach under the counter and produce, one by one, an unending supply of lost bottles, mostly still full of murky colored fluids, several labeled with names of kids you know from the rink. Yours is never there.
There is always the temptation to adopt one of these sorry lost bottles, just to save the five bucks you are about to pay in the pro-shop for bottle number 32 (33, 34, 35…). But I have yet to do this. Maybe if I start carrying around a bottle brush, a bucket, and a jug of hydrogen peroxide.
The point of this post was supposed to be to discuss the appropriate hydration beverage for Quisp Jr and his brethren. It has been noted in the press lately that sports beverages (Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water…), while appropriate in many situations, usually just makes most people fat and sugared-up.
The hot topic in the news the last few days [...] is the latest report from the American Academy of Pediatrics about the use of sports and energy drinks by kids. [...]
It’s true, my kids mostly drink water, and lots of it. But, thanks to the advice of Bret, my son’s hockey coach, we’ve become big fans of the regenerative power of chocolate milk.
Turns out chocolate milk has an optimal carbohydrate to protein ratio, essential to restoring muscles and energy, and a bunch of other good stuff like Vitamin D that helps athletic performance and growing kids. We’ll buy a gallon of chocolate milk for tournament weekends, or grab a bottle from the concession stand or vending machine after a game. Since snack stand prices often require a second mortgage, it’s cheaper [...] to [prepare] a few drink bottles of chocolate milk to keep in the game cooler. Recently we tried some of the shelf-stable milk boxes, which I pick up at Costco, to decent reviews from the athletes [...].
I’m going to try giving him chocolate milk post-game, and for the water bottle, I’ll stick with plain old (Brita-filtered) tap water.