Chris, Ray and Kyle Shero
When most people think of the typical father-son sports bonding experience, the first thing that comes to mind is playing catch with a baseball in the backyard. America’s pastime.
But with the growth of hockey in the United States, it’s becoming more and more common for fathers to bond with their sons with a hockey stick instead of a baseball (as well as mothers and daughters, too).
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma and general manager Ray Shero have taken an active role with their sons’ athletic participation. Bylsma, a former college and NHL player, is a regular for his son Bryan’s games and practices, while Shero, a former collegiate hockey player, has been involved with both of his sons, Chris (Predators) and Kyle (Hornets), during their youth hockey games.
“I’ve helped coach Kyle for a while, he’s bantam,” Shero said. “I’ve coached him since he was just starting out. My son Chris is a Midget-AAA. I used to help coach him when he was a mite or peewee. I always try to get on the ice whenever I can.”
|L-R: Chris, Ray and Kyle Shero and Bryan and Dan Bylsma |
Bryan Bylsma plays for the Arctic Foxes. And his father credits the growth of hockey in the Pittsburgh region as one of the reasons that he is able to see his son play so often.
“I feel fortunate to be in a place like Pittsburgh,” Dan said. “The number of travel associations and players in the amateur level in Pittsburgh is just astounding. My son, when he goes to tryouts for his team for his travel program, five teams in the peewee level travel team for the Arctic Foxes, we’re talking 85, 90 kids, is just astounding to me.
“It’s awesome for me. Even a lot of the ‘road’ games I’ve been able to see on a weekend or weekday, they’re playing right here in Pittsburgh. To watch him play and see him play is a blessing.”
Bylsma and Shero are not the only front office personnel that are taking an active role in hockey with their children. Many people within the organization have taken time to organize or help out with camps. Even assistant coaches Todd Reirden and Tony Granato have volunteered their time with their children and other youth hockey players at camps.
“I think it’s great. It says a lot about the coaches that we have here,” said Shero, who is involved with USA Hockey and is a member of the USA Hockey National Team Advisory Group. “Dan, Todd, Tony, they give back. They’ll get on the ice and help the coaches, do coaching seminars. Everybody is willing to help and shape their experiences. Guys want to give back. They want to help out the kids and the coaches. I think that’s a nice thing.”
While all the fathers are supportive of their sons’ hockey endeavors, they also support the various other sports that they’re involved in. Bryan Bylsma loves to play baseball, a sport his dad shares an enthusiasm for.
Shero’s sons are also multi-sport kids. And that’s something that Ray quite enjoys.
“My younger boy (Kyle) plays baseball. My other son (Chris) plays hockey, lacrosse and soccer,” Shero said. “I played baseball growing up. I was never a lacrosse player. As much as I like watching them play hockey, I like watching lacrosse, which I don’t know anything about. It’s actually great.”
But no matter what sport their sons participate in, the most important thing is the life lessons they can learn through sports.
“To watch them play at a competitive level, anything that involves competition, whatever it may be, is good for their growth,” Shero said. “It’s good to see them interact with other kids, how they handle wins and losses, I think it has a lot to do with shaping them as young men. It’s nice to see.” Bryan and Dan Bylsma