Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Choosing Other Sports

This young man has a very bright future ahead of him, only it won't be on the ice. This is Max Meyer, and Max was selected third-overall in the Major League Baseball Entry Draft tonight by the Florida Marlins. Max, though, is one of those kids whose talent couldn't be missed as he was drafted out of Woodbury High School in Minnesota in the 34th round in 2017 by the Minnesota Twins. Max, instead, opted for college and pitched for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and today sees him embark on what looks like a very fruitful and prosperous career based on his new draft standing in this year's event. What should be noted, though, is that Max was a very good hockey player in high school as well, and it goes to show that there's nothing wrong with hockey being a second sport for kids.

I know this blog is all about hockey and everything that game is about, but when one considers the number of professional athletes who have played hockey in their lives before going on to play another sport professionally proves that not only does playing a number of different sports make one a better athlete, but may also help those athletes thrive in other sports.

Back to Max's story, he was a forward with the Woodbury Royal team, lettering in three years with the club. In his senior year of high school in 2016-17, Max had a solid year where he scored nine goals and added eight assists in 25 games at the Minnesota high school level while helping Woodbury to a 14-10-1 overall record and an 8-8-0 record in conference play to finish in fifth-place in the nine-team conference. Considering Max had just four assists in the 2015-16 season with Woodbury, I'd say that was a marked improvement in how he played the game. He did, however, also play another game while attending Woodbury, and that's where his passion was invested as the Minnesota Twins saw something in him before he chose to go on to post-secondary school.

His choice of going to the University of Minnesota seems like the right one as well when one considers these scouting reports about the kid:
Does he have the raw talent? Absolutely, and the Marlins agreed when they selected him third-overall. It's pretty clear that they like his stuff, and Baseball America seemed to think he was a pitching prospect not to be missed as well.

Why am I telling you all this about a baseball player?

I've seen countless hockey schools and rinks advertising summer hockey spots again this summer with restrictions easing in Canada, and I'm not so sure it's a good idea to rush back into rinks when kids can be out playing other sports and doing other things that will complement their hockey skills. Meyer was a good hockey player, but a better baseball player. Some guy named Larry Walker did the same thing, and he went on to have a Hall-of-Fame baseball career.

Hockey shouldn't be a full-time job for kids. European players developed their footwork through the playing of soccer, and now we see that sport practiced in hallways before games as a warm-up. Lots of Canadians used lacrosse and baseball to develop better hand-eye coordination. The simple act of running improves endurance and burns fat. Just because kids can't be on the ice during the summer doesn't mean they can't work on other skills that are found in summer sports.

I want to give full credit to Max Meyer for sticking to his craft, honing his skills, and becoming a big-league ball player tonight after being drafted third-overall. I don't know how much hockey had to do that, but I know that there's likely some skill he'll take with him to "the show" thanks to his time in hockey.

Encourage your kids to play as many sports as they can. if they love hockey, they'll keep playing it. If they're better at football or basketball or baseball or lacrosse or whatever, let them explore that while continuing to support their love of hockey. I know parents dream of kids making it to the pro ranks, but sometimes those dreams are realized in other sports like Max Meyer's dream was.

Sometimes, hockey is a means to a dream rather than just being "the dream".

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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