The Walter Way: Love and Unconditional Support

I am about to let you in on a little secret that I learned over my career as a professional hockey player; some people have said that I have “Selected Memory Disease.” If this is true, then it’s a great thing to work on. The great writer, Mark Twain, put it this way: “The inability to forget is far more devastating than the ability to remember.” What an amazing concept.

Over my 17 seasons as a National Hockey League (NHL) player and coach, I was often criticized on the ice (that’s why we call them “the opposition”) and off the ice (that’s why we call them “the critics”). I was able to really enjoy my lengthy career by mastering Mark Twain’s principle. Hang on to the great memories, but forget whatever doesn’t help you to positively move forward.

I bring this up now because I want to share some memories of the way my mom and dad journeyed with me through minor hockey. I am sure that they weren’t absolutely perfect… but as I look back, they sure seemed that way.

Twain also said: “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”

My recollection of the actions mom and dad took in those early days may have been skewed a little in the positive direction, but either way, I am thankful for their passion and dedication to our family.

My folks have three sons and a daughter, and all of us played hockey, lacrosse, soccer and whatever else we chose to have fun with. As long as I can remember, both of my parents discovered that fine art of supporting us without pushing us. I do remember hearing the story of my dad signing me up for the game that I fell in love with (hockey) at an early age, and asking me after, but even this was his way of supporting my passion.

My mom and dad have watched an incredible number of games over the past 50 hockey seasons. It would be easier to count the games that they have coached, managed and watched if we were only talking about their three sons and daughter, but it’s not just us. Dad and mom continue to support every one of their grandchildren, in every sport, concert and school event and … do you see how impossible it is to put a number on this?

The thing that I remember most about the impact my parents had on us as kids was their unconditional support.

My father, Bill, either coached or managed each of us on almost every team we ever played on. I remember that he did this, but I don’t remember his style or expertise. I simply remember him being there for us. Leadership expert John Maxwell maintains that: “People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Mom and dad, in many ways, are experts in the game of hockey. The latest science on performance touts the 10,000-hour rule. To be an expert in any field, people must spend 10,000 focused hours of practice. Mom and dad passed that threshold in regards to watching the game of hockey many years back. However, when I look back, I don’t remember their excellence or their expertise… I remember their unwavering support.

Last night my wife Jenn and I took our family to Mom and Dad’s home to watch (what else) NHL playoffs. It felt so great, so comfortable, all of us together, watching the game we love.

About The Author

Ryan Walter — Abbotsford Heat President, Stanley Cup Champion, Coach, Speaker, Author
Ryan Walter played more than 1000 games over 15 NHL seasons. Drafted second overall by the Washington Capitals (where he became the NHL’s youngest captain), Ryan won a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens before finishing his playing career as a Vancouver Canuck...CONTINUE.

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