Dear Coach: I play on my high school hockey team, and earlier this year I accidentally bumped a ref. I apologized, but he's holding a grudge. He whistles me for everything. How do I get him off my back?
Dear Singled: Skate a fine line, because it's tough to work your way out of a ref's doghouse. "If a ref is out to get you, he'll find ways to keep you off the ice," says Jack Hutslar, founder of the North American Youth Sport Institute. Only your best on-ice behavior can salvage your reputation. "Play fair and keep your mouth shut," says Hutslar. "Take whatever he hands out without showing emotion, and thank him after each game." Also, referees share dish on players all the time, so, says Hutslar, "if it becomes common knowledge that you're clean, he'll see that he's misjudged you."
Dear Coach: My high school hockey coach whacks us on the shins or shoulders with a stick during practice. Usually he hits our pads, but occasionally he nails us and says it's for our own good. Is this all right?
Dear Mole: Someone must get your stick-happy coach to stop immediately. He's trying to make sure the players are tough enough to play for him, probably because that's how his coach treated him, but such old-school tactics are outdated and dangerous; just last week a college coach was suspended after giving one of his players a concussion with a stick whack. Go ahead and tell the athletic director and your parents about these incidents before an injury—and, most likely, a lawsuit—occurs.