This post is part of YummyMummyClub.ca’s support of the Dove Men+Care® Hockey Contest. This post reflects my personal opinion and was not influenced by any sponsors. Show your passion for hockey and click here to enter: www.familyhockeymoments.ca
“What are you doing writing about hockey in July,” you ask?
Well, for one, when the temperatures soar into the mid 30s Celsius and the humidity in southern Ontario takes that to 43°C any break from the heat is welcome. Even imagining the cold rinks and frozen noses we live with for over half the year brings some relief. And if we’re going to be particular, the hockey season never really ends in Canada for a lot of kids and parents.
Which brings me to point two: for many families hockey begins in September, culminates in championships and playoffs in April, we’re given a couple of weeks off before try-outs begin – boom the new teams are formed, throw in some pre-season practices and team bonding activities, and July is the only month away from the rink. If your child doesn’t play 3-on-3. It’s like we’re addicted.
Non-hockey fans find it difficult to understand this love we have for a game played on two slim blades, at speeds bordering on recklessness, weighed down by enough protective equipment to slow a team of sled dogs, and in temperatures that make the faint of heart take shelter in front of a roaring fireplace. Maybe clarification from an avowed hockey mom will help.
Our son has played organized hockey since he was 5 years old. But the love didn’t begin there. It started when he was old enough to cart the mini-stick his uncle gave him everywhere we went. Once his toddler legs were less wobbly small objects became fair game as potential pucks, and pucks need to be hit hard. As soon as he was of age he graduated to the real thing – sliding around on any patch of ice available. Okay, maybe not the real thing, but try telling a hockey loving kid that.
Once the real, real thing began did our son jump to the top of the pack and become a future pro? Nope. Did he play with any less heart because of that? Nope. He played house league hockey with commitment and love alongside his teammates. Over the years he’s been in and out of the rep system several times. Is he happier now that he’s been playing rep for a while? Nun-uh. He loves hockey no matter the colour of the jersey. Or sweater if you’re an old school hockey fan.
Hockey is a competitive sport regardless of the level of play and kids who love the game have a healthy competitive streak. This teaches them to work towards goals and never give up despite what the scoreboard may show. In doing that they learn to think outside themselves, which can be a challenge for developing minds. The best teams are made up of kids who play focused on one thought, success for the team. Not a bad lesson to learn.
There are those who poo-poo hockey parents and fans and paint us all with a broad brush coloured by overzealousness, but I am proud to be a hockey mom. Our life is richer for the experiences the game has brought. And as parents we’ve pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone to share in this love our son has. Some of you know that we have two children. Not to worry; our daughter finds her own joy in hockey although she’s chosen not to play.
There are moments that make me misty – bear in mind that I cry at Olympic commercials – but I don’t think I’m alone that way:
* My husband grew up playing pond and road hockey (on boots) yet taught himself to skate several years ago so that he could put his money where his mouth was and volunteer as a coach. Many stolen mornings and lunch breaks at senior skate sessions at our local rink, and now I get to see the happiness of a teenager who knows his father made an effort to be present.
* Meeting Bobby Orr when our son was 8 and invited to take part in a national educational hockey program. That meeting changed how we viewed our role as hockey parents. We put aside the coach mentality and embraced our job as supportive fans. It was also the birthplace of our daughter’s undying devotion to Mr. Orr and all things Boston. The verdict is still out on how we feel about that. Another hockey fan was born that weekend, all girly and giggly, but diehard nonetheless.
* Impromptu street hockey games after hours spent at the rink…because you can never play too much hockey. The nets are dragged to a central location, any available kid is welcome to play – ages often range from 6-16, and cars are expected to stop and wait for the field to clear before passing. Luckily we live on a quiet street and the kids get a nod and a smile from passing drivers, who are surely reliving their own street hockey games.
* A small gang of siblings running and sliding and laughing. All excited to meet up with each other at games. And especially excited about the hotel stays during tournaments where pool time shenanigans are guaranteed. These are friendships developing within site of the ice.
* Shattered garage door windows and house numbers that go flying during shooting practice. Hang on…that doesn’t make me misty so much as see mist. The red kind. But how can I get angry when our son runs in, and with pride in his voice, informs me that he’s knocked the metal number off the front of the house … again – from the end of the driveway no less. “That was a hard shot, eh maman?”
* A semi final tournament game last season that blew the parents’ minds it was so good. The forwards and defencemen played like it was the biggest game of their collective adolescent lives. The goalie was on fire. And they won in overtime. I nearly had a heart attack from the tension. Yes … I feel the game intensely. Those are our boys out there after all. I don’t yell or lose my mind, but I do pace. And pray. When the kids came out of the dressing room, there were so many teary young eyes. Tears of pride and joy. And when their goalie came into the lobby he was greeted by boisterous cheers, boy hugs, and pats on the back.
You better believe I’m proud to be a hockey mom.
Our son plays hockey at arenas, we join him in road hockey and backyard games. The family sits together to watch the juniors and pros and we all cheer; maybe not always for the same team, but that’s just opportunity for good-natured trash talking and teasing. Except when Canada plays. Then we’re all wearing the red and white.
When YummyMummyClub.ca offered me the opportunity to write about hockey I said yes quicker than a puck flies. How could I not? You all know how I feel about the game, and a backyard rink?! Show me a Canadian hockey family that a) doesn’t have one or b) doesn’t want one. Now it’s your turn…so hustle, the contest end date is August 1, 2012.
Show your passion for hockey! Visit Dove Men+Care® Hockey Contest and submit your family’s favourite hockey photos for a chance to win one of three $15,000 backyard rinks. Plus, one of two legendary hockey players — Wendel Clark or Guy Carbonneau – will drop the puck at one of your backyard games!
Visit http://www.familyhockeymoments.ca to enter!