Frozen Shorts: The Journey

Category: 2013
Published: Sunday, 04 August 2013
Frozen Shorts: The Journey


 Boy, do I miss the good old days playing youth sports. And yes I am aware, that in most cases, the good old days weren’t always good. The stated goal back then was to have fun, learn life lessons, hang out with your buddies, and play. There were a few wack-a-doodles back then, but not many. We played all sports. Street hockey and basketball were played in the driveway, baseball in a field behind our house, and football and soccer in adjoining neighbors’ yards. The games were very competitive and lots of fun. There was some good natured ribbing, but mostly each guy cared about everyone having fun and getting to play allot. Guys got nicked up, we had disagreements, and settled them easily, and got right back at it the next day.


 Games were made up, and rules were brokered by the older guys. Guys wanted other guys to do well and be successful. If a friend was not as talented it did not matter, he stilled played, and that is the only way to get better. The older guys taught us younger guys and we got better by playing. We all shared playing time. Each new season brought to us a new sport. No one got burned out, and a very few select guys still got scholarships, but most of all; we all played and had fun. Parents had little say in what we did playing sports. When it came time to play organized sports, parents paid a modest fee, volunteered to coach, and hauled us to practice and games. After every game we went for ice cream. We had a blast.


So when I started coaching about 38 years ago in youth sports I just naturally assumed this was the way to coach. My first coaching job came about quite by accident. I was at a friend’s diner, and his son played on a hockey team. The coach, who was a great guy, came in, we talked, and I coached the team the next year because he was too busy with his job. (I am still close to that player today) From there I went on to coach in high school and college hockey.


I started keeping little notes and stuffing them in a drawer as I went on this journey. I wanted to learn, I wanted to get better. Analyzing everything and trying to figure out if there was a better way to do things became an everyday occurrence for me. Mental notes turned into ideas and ideas turned into practice. My broadcasting career with the AHL team in our city gave me access to some pretty good coaches, as did my subsequent time doing DIII and DI broadcasts for R.I.T.


About 15 years ago my son Clayton started playing youth sports. Boy was I shocked. This was nothing like I remembered. I’m old, not ancient. Youth sports had turned into a machine, with what seemed to me to be a new stated goal of “elite” travels teams. Didn’t make much sense to me. They are just kids. Let them play.


But what struck me most were the injuries. There were a lot of them. No one was putting two and two together. The tremendous pressure put on these kids to chose a sport, the long travel to play games against teams in other states, ( which were no better than the teams near us) The importance put on these games, and the driving force to play one sport year round was at the root of these injuries. How could people not see this? Oh, and what about fun? Fun was now taking a back seat to winning, status, and scholarships. The money being spent, and is being spent, was out of control. Value was being put on 8 year olds athletic ability, or lack thereof.


 I’m all for competition, good honest fair competition, and I like to win, a lot. But this, this was different than anything I had ever seen. Kids were getting hurt all the time. I could clearly see the connection between this new era of youth sports and the injuries. I started talking to Certified Athletic trainers, Doctors, Physical Education teachers and athletes.


So I turned the notes I had been taking for all these years into a book. The book, and the company I formed was done with the belief that we had to lower the injury rate and the best way to do this was to embrace the old ways we did things.  I t was the way I had coached all my adult life. Play for fun with balanced excellence, and the overuse injuries would go down, we would have more fun.


So here we are. I have been interviewed all over the United Sates, and twice in Canada, in all forms of media.


 Achieving balanced excellence and health while embracing the value of play for fun became the mission of Frozen Shorts. It is a simple formula, just not easy to implement.


We work with Doctors, coaches, Certified Athletic Trainers, professional athletes, and moms and dads sharing ideas and implementing solutions to right the ship as it has careened off course and out of control.

 Change has started.

5 Scholarship Myths

Category: 2013
Published: Monday, 29 July 2013
Five Division I Athletic Scholarship Myths


1.      MYTH:All athletic scholarships are for four years and include tuition, room, board, books, and spending money. FACT: In actuality MOST DI athletic scholarships are for one year. Each year, on July 1, the coach renews in writing the college’s commitment to you. The scholarship can be cancelled, reduced, or in some cases increased by the coach. The NCAA has recently allowed some multi- year scholarships. The average DI scholarship averages about $10,780 for a scholastic year. Football and basketball are “head count” scholarships and do cover full tuition, room, and board.


2.     MYTH:Division I athletic scholarships are easy to get. FACT:


 About 1% of all college students play at the Division I level. Only half of that 1% plays for free.


3.  MYTH: The Ivy League schools and the Military Academies have athletic scholarships.FACT: The Ivy League schools offer no athletic scholarships. The Military Academies give scholarships to ALL their students.


4.  MYTH:All D1 colleges fully fund their athletic scholarship program. FACT:Colleges are not required to fully fund their scholarship quota. In other words, if a D1 college has a men’s soccer program. The NCAA allows the college 9 full scholarships. I call them points. The coach can then divide these scholarships into fractions and spread them out throughout his team. He does not have to give every player on the team athletic scholarship money, and he does not. BUT, the college does not have to provide a total of 9 full scholarships to the men’s soccer program.

5.  MYTH: Academics are not important. FACT: Yes they are. There are 77 times more non athletic scholarships than athletic scholarships. To put it into perspective, 25% of ALL college students get some kind of financial aid. Conversely, only 1% of all student athletes get athletic scholarships. Even in the athletic scholarship arena, colleges have an academic index they must adhere to, and academics do count. College coaches want student athletes because they show the coaches discipline and they are more likely to stay for four years.

What If?

Category: 2013
Published: Monday, 22 July 2013
What if I told you that . . .?


*balanced excellence, not specialization, is the key to athletic success and life?


*athletes only get better playing in games, not sitting on the bench?


*nothing a child does before puberty is a solid indicator of future athletic success?


*health is the leading indicator of future success for an athlete?  (that includes structured rest)


*playing for fun can help teams win way more than playing a sport just to win?


*just because you specialize in one sport, doesn’t mean your talent is special?


Let the journey through this book, just like your journey through youth sports and life, reveal to you the extrinsic message that will trigger the internal, intrinsic change in your own journey through youth sports and life.


Are you frustrated and tired of paying fees and footing the bill for your child’s participation in youth sports? Is the time you spend year-round going to practices and attending games wearing you down? Does your son or daughter find playing youth sports to be a chore, a job? Does it seem that the farther the player goes “up the ladder” in competition, the more problems arise and the less fun the player has?  Are the bulk of your financial contributions to your child’s participation in youth sports being used to support the development of one or two “star” players (not your child) on the team?  Do you and your family feel left out, alone? Do you feel the need to look at other options, but can’t figure out what they are and how to find them?


Are you thinking of volunteering to coach a team, but are unsure of what you’re getting into? Are you presently a coach who finds things just aren’t going the way you thought they would? Are you finding it difficult to get objective advice from people, worried they may have a hidden agenda?


Whether a parent or a coach, would you like some pointers and tips that will give a better feeling about what you’re doing? Are you just plain confused about the whole “youth sports” thing and would like to know what happened to the “fun” you experienced when you were young and part of a team?


Families and players are leaving youth sports en masse because of adverse treatment by coaches, players, and parents. Fun has been replaced by angst, bewilderment, and sometimes anger.


Why is all this happening? What are the short- and long-term consequences of people feeling this way?



One of my goals in writing this book is for people to understand how important balance is in achieving happiness and contentment in youth sports and life.  I’m really trying to help calm the angst and tense atmosphere so prevalent in today’s youth sports world.

To check and tackle or not to check and tackle pre puberrty

Category: 2013
Published: Monday, 15 July 2013
To check and tackle or not to check and tackle pre puberty?
There is an increasing debate raging on whether or not checking should be allowed pre puberty in ice hockey as well as tackling in Pop Warner football. In New York State Legislation has been introduced that would eliminate all tackle football before the age of 11. In Canada checking in hockey is being eliminated pre puberty.
Let’s examine the problem and why this has become an issue.
“TBIs account for an estimated 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports injuries every year, with approximately 300,000 of those being diagnosed among young, nonprofessional athletes.”
Increased knowledge about concussions and their long term effect on children is being researched, developed, and brought out to the public in an increasing variety of ways. There are concussion tests that start with a baseline before the child plays. There is a blood test that measures protein.  Voice recognition is now coming to the forefront as another way to examine and treat this problem.
My own personal experience comes into play here. I have had 8 concussions total. The last two occurred within one week at Clarkson University while playing hockey and ended my playing career. The effects still haunt me today.
Two years ago, my wife decided to decorate our Christmas tree with a special treat for the kids. I was out making a speech and when I got home it hit me like a ton of bricks. She had bought blueberry candy canes, as an innocuous tree ornament. The first whiff of this started to give me a headache. Then my eyes started to water and my vision started to blur. When I tried to talk to her about this my words were slurred. It got to the point in just a matter of minutes that I could not speak and could not see. She led me upstairs to the bedroom and closed all the shades and put a hand cloth over my eyes. My wife then went downstairs and threw out the candy canes, opened all the windows and turned on the heat.
It took 4 hours before I returned to  normal.
People can argue all they want about the need to have kids learn checking and tackling early on in both football and hockey to toughen up the children, but it does not trump the health issue. Since we have a hard enough time getting trained coaches to teach these techniques, I believe that delaying contact until after puberty is a sound health solution.
It has been presented to me that the children will fall behind or become “wussys.”
If all contact is eliminated then no one will fall behind and no one will get an advantage. In Canada they conducted an experiment with one team of 12 year olds played with contact and another didn’t. No difference in development. Why? Because skill is still the most important physical aspect for any child to learn in youth sports.
 How many passes are made in a hockey game compared to checks thrown? How many shots taken? In football, how many kids quit playing because they don’t want to get continually clobbered every practice and game? Do we not have a responsibility to keep them active? Mentally, as always, it’s about having fun, so the child can relax and play with confidence. Am I to believe that children playing pickup games with no contact are not developing? Watch my videos and you will see where professional and college athletes and coaches say pick up games are fun and competitive, without contact.
Since there are many cases of kids and parents going over board when hitting is involved then eliminating that aspect of youth sports is another way to ramp down the angst at youth sports events. Some kids will want to go to next level and start contact and that’s great. I’m all for it. No parent that I have seen at a youth sports event goes nuts over a great pass, a fantastic run, or a beautiful goal.
Lastly let me remind you that 3.5 million children went to the hospital last year with over use injuries. If you don’t think the insurance companies are not going to see this and come up with a way to stop all the payments and keep people healthy you really haven’t been paying attention closely to the health situation in America where 30% of all children born after the year 2000 are headed for Type II diabetes.
Also, obesity has quadrupled over the last 30 years.
Let the children PLAY FOR FUN and be safe.

The Kids Know: Part II

Category: 2013
Published: Monday, 08 July 2013
Our next child, and please remember that even though they may be 18 years of age they are still children, chose his own path and his own journey, through a process of one step back two steps forward. It’s not who starts first, but who finishes with most enriching experience that counts.


 But first, I want to set forth an explanation of my view of all children’s journey. Since I believe that if it is true, it is applicable to all scenarios; it is a journey that will help most children long term, and hopefully a journey that will teach both adults and children the inherent value of letting children figure things out themselves with a balance of guidance, love, safety, accountability, and support for their children.


 These children are still developing in many ways and in many areas, even at 18 and beyond. Our job, as parents, coaches,  and mentors, is to provide an environment for them that is rich in opportunities  while still being in a safe but not necessarily a protective environment, where their mistakes are more likely to turn into success, given time and positive reinforcement, than failure. We want them to make mistakes, YES WE DO. These mistakes provide with the necessary tools that teach themselves how to cope and to learn at their own pace, for their own needs, for their future, not ours.


 This child comes from a very good environment.  The parents had their children playing in the back yard with other children. The mom commented how if the children played in the back yard for an hour, they spent 20 minutes arguing about rules, 20 minutes playing, and 20 minutes eating. CLASSIC!


Let me interject here that national studies, by nationally known children’s experts have unequivocally stated that children, once shown what to do, learn faster, retain more information, and feel better about themselves, when left alone to figure things out for themselves. This process leads to a greater amount of creativity and interest, than continually telling them what to do.


She also related her son’s journey playing his chosen sport. After High School he chose to attend, tryout, and eventually play for his college varsity team. Although he ended up playing and starting for his team as a freshman, his success on the field was not matched by his attention and success in the classroom. He did not go back to that college for his sophomore year. Instead he attended a local community college to get his grades back up. After a year there, he went back to his original college.


Then something happened. His own personal light went on. I believe strongly that the parents, by letting him, and supporting him while not mitigating the consequences of his actions, modeled the same kind of decision making their son needed to learn and embrace, to make a solid long term choice for his future.


(Think of how many short term decisions have come back to bite you in the butt!)


He decided to leave that school and transfer to a school that provided him with a better environment for his future, not the team he was playing on. He made the team at his new school and is playing a lot. But what is most important is not that he is playing again at the college level, what is important is that the journey revealed to him what it is that was most beneficial to him for his future, not just his present.


To see these two ladies tell their separate but very enlightening stories about their children, was wonderful. I truly enjoyed the time I spent with them.


Watching the light go on for them as it pertains to how their sons got to where they are, and how they did it, was a joy to see. To see that joy and contentment that only a mom can radiate made my whole day, and I hope it made theirs!

You can follow VJ on twitter @VJJStanley, go to his website to read other blogs and see video interviews of Doctors, Athletes, Coaches, and more. You can follow him on face book, or contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  His book: Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sports is available in E-Reader and paperback through his website