Sometimes facilitating the Canadian Hockey Mom Community provides me with some extra-amazing opportunities. This was the case when I talked last week with Kelly McDavid (yes, NHL superstar Connor McDavid’s mom) about important work she is doing with Febreze to eliminate odours and barriers to playing hockey. As they say, “You bring the skates; we’ll take care of the stink”.
For the third time, Kelly has partnered with Febreze and Skate To Great to help get more Canadian kids on the ice. From now until December 3rd, Febreze is collecting gently used hockey skates at select arenas nationwide. Your donation will be sanitized, freshened with Febreze and shared with kids who want to get on the ice!! To find a collection location nearest you, click here.
For many Canadians, the cost of equipment is unaffordable, making participation in certain sports and extracurricular activities difficult. Febreze is committed to not only eliminating that tough hockey stink but also the barriers to participating in Canada’s much-loved sport. #FebrezeHockeyHeroes
I also had a chance to ask Kelly some of your questions about her family’s minor hockey days. I’ve included excerpts from our conversation below. Have a read, you might be surprised by some of her answers!
What were some of your earliest memories of your boys playing hockey?
I met my husband Brian through hockey, my sister was dating someone on the same Junior B team. My family was a skiing family, so I always thought my family would ski, but life turned out differently.
Connor started playing house league at 4 and Cameron at 5. Cameron’s best memories were meeting other players and the relationships that they made, and the relationships that we made with other parents who were the greatest part of hockey. As we all look back at the best part it was certainly the relationships and feeling that you were a family.
What was your typical role in the Hockey Mom madness?
I was more the caregiver I was always worried about their health, eating and sleeping. I was always worried that it was too much. Connor put a lot of pressure on himself and accountability. He would say “I’m tired today I don’t want to shoot my pucks, I’m tired” and I would say “that’s ok listen to your body, you don’t’ have to if you are tired.” Then he would look at me and say, “No, I need to do it because if I don’t I will be mad at myself later.” So he always did it.
That’s a great point, the importance of accountability, especially now with games like Fortnite taking up kids’ attention.
Yes, I didn’t even know what that was until recently, the kids explained it to me. It’s so sad, kids should be doing other things and outside. We were lucky to not have Fortnite.
Let’s talk about the work you are doing with Febreze and Skate to Great.
Febreze has always been a part of my family, I’ve used Febreze Fabric Freshener since the kids were little. I learned quickly that you couldn’t go to a tournament without it. So, I was very excited when they approached me, it was just a natural fit. What we are doing is asking people to donate their gently used skates, and find the Febreze Facebook page, to find the drop-off location closest to you so that kids who don’t’ have skates can get out on the ice.
Do you see hockey as something that is important in a child’s development?
Hockey or any organized sport is important. It builds self- confidence, high management skills, teamwork, time management. Hockey or other sports teaches them so many life lessons that they can carry on into adulthood. There are so many barriers, one is that there is a huge time commitment and huge life commitment. The Febreze and Skate to Great program is trying to keep players on the ice. I know with my boys went through skates so quickly, sometimes my boys wore through two pairs in a season. So let’s get these extra skates to other players and maybe we can find the next great NHL player out there.
How did you handle or help your kids handle homework or school and hockey?
Our kids were very clear if they wanted to play hockey they had to do their homework. I definitely helped with time management, the nagging mother, but Connor was a little bit more scheduled. He was focused to make sure he got his homework done early so that he didn’t’ have to worry about it. Cameron was more last minute so he might have to stay up late but it always got done.
I remember the first time that Cameron made it to a rep team, and I didn’t’ know much about hockey. We were all very excited about the tournament and Brian was out of town so I took him to practice and they handed out the schedule. I noticed that he played on Friday, and I thought to myself “there is no PA day on Friday, why is there a game on Friday?” I went up to the coach and said: “I’m not sure if you know that it’s not a PA day Friday, but there are two games scheduled.” He looked at me like I had two heads, he couldn’t believe that I didn’t know that this was a thing. That was my first introduction to the tournaments and knowing your kids need to miss one day of school. I must have looked like the crazy mom in the dressing room going up and complaining about playing on a Friday.
How did you handle negative comments about your son’s skill?
It was tough. He got called a puck hog, my husband coached and would be accused of playing Connor more but my husband was so aware of how much ice-time he had and would be as equal as he possibly could. When my husband coached Connor was never the captain of any of those teams. Brian would refuse to make him captain because it would have confirmed that my husband was there only for Connor. He was an assistant captain for a couple of years but he never got to be captain. Then there were times when parents would yell, one mother came down to the glass and started giving Connor the finger, I want to say he was 11 and it was a mother whose son was cut by my husband and she thought Connor was trying to fight with her kid, which was totally not the case at all. He was very upset by that and got into the car and asked why she would do this, and I had to explain that some parents are very jealous, but we need to walk away.
Connor comes across as a humble person. Is that something you had to work on or is he that way?
He is that way. We obviously talked about things that would take place in the dressing room or on the ice, but we said that’s part of hockey and you have to let that go. He is who he is, and I often say he’s an old soul in a young body. He’s mature beyond his years and he just gets it and got it at a very young age. He got that “I’m good at this”. He put a lot of pressure on himself, but he never tried to make anyone feel bad if they weren’t or never bragged or boasted. He just loves hockey, he loves the team aspect of it and it’s carried on, to this day he doesn’t like cocky.
How did you handle politics in hockey?
Things hurt sometimes because you feel like people are your family. And when we went from York Simcoe Express to the GTHL, it wasn’t well received. I take it they were hurt and didn’t want us to leave, which was nice, but you are doing what you do for your son. Especially when your husband coaches there is always lots of talk, but you have to try not to get involved in it and take it with a grain of salt.
When you have two children playing how do you manage time and attention with siblings?
Brian was with Connor most of the time because he coached him and Cameron played to Junior A, and I went with Cameron. You just made it work. When we were all at home we tried to spend time together, and spend time with my extended family at their place and all be together there. Those times were special, and we tried to do the best we could, it’s all you can do.
For both your sons what is the greatest adversity and how did you help them get through it?
For Connor, the greatest adversity was the fact that he was so good, and he had to tone it down a bit because he didn’t want to be the one in the limelight. Even still he doesn’t like to be the star of attention. Even though he is who he is he doesn’t feel the attention should be on him it should be on his teammates.
For Cameron, his adversity was making it to AAA, he wanted to, and finally did, and that was constantly encouraging him and making sure that he didn’t’ get down on himself and he eventually made it.
How did I help them? I just supported them. I gave them support and I talked to them. I talk to moms today and I say we were lucky our kids didn’t have cell phones. On our drives to the game, we were talking to each other. Nowadays, kids are on their cell phones all the time, they don’t’ talk as much. That’s all we did was talk.
With toning it down – did you ever worry he wouldn’t go for it? Because to go for it you have to really put yourself out there.
I never thought he wouldn’t go for it, he was very focused and determined and that’s what he was going to do no matter what. For me, I worried that it was too much for him, and I would often talk to him about that and make sure it was ok. When he was quiet I would worry, he’s a very introspective person and he would get quiet and I would be the one to try to make sure that he was ok and make sure he was supported no matter what.
When you look over your hockey mom experience, what was the most important advice you ever received?.
It was actually my husband who got the advice, and he was told don’t ever let anybody come between you and your son. So meaning… there are a lot of people out there, your kids are good and they want to be a part of it, and want to represent your kids or take them on free tournaments where you wouldn’t have to pay, which we never ever did. It just means stay close to your kids. And enjoy it, because it goes so darn fast. Just enjoy it, and stay positive.
What would you like to tell every mom out there?
Enjoy it, stay positive, support your kids, there are ups and downs. There are sacrifices, I know there are sacrifices I sacrificed a lot to have my sons play at a high level but it was worth it. Stay positive.
And finally, a question directly from our moms on Facebook, does that nervous mom question ever go away or does it get easier?
No, I’m always nervous. We don’t go to a lot of games because it’s so far, but I’m watching on TV, and I’m on the edge of my seat and yelling at the TV, and I’m not yelling at other players I’m just yelling to be careful. I worry about injuries more now since he broke his collarbone and I see him racing towards the boards, and that’s when I yell careful. It doesn’t get easier.
I would like to thank Kelly McDavid for taking the time to talk to me and answering some of our CHM questions, and Febreze and Skate to Great for offering such a great program to help all Canadians play hockey.
Want to enter the Giveaway for a Febreze Product?
If you would like to enter to receive one of five Febreze products, go to our Canadian Hockey Moms Facebook Page and tell me your favourite Kelly McDavid answer in the comments.
Be sure to check out the Febreze Hockey Heroes website and find the skate drop-off location closest to you and keep kids in hockey!