until my son played and I became a hockey mom.
That’s him at centre ice in the yellow jersey, number 6, and this was his first hockey game – ever. He was six years old and he played IP that year (Introductory Player, I think it’s called). It was mostly learning about skills. They didn’t play any games except for this one, which was during one of the breaks for the bigger boys – the Junior B team.
There was a lot of family there that night. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and of course us – his parents. He told us before the game that he was going to score a goal for every one of his family members that had come to see him play – and he did. He shoved (literally) 6 goals into the net. From that moment on I knew that watching him play hockey was always going to be fun and exciting – I wasn’t wrong.
So, why didn’t I ever like hockey? Yes, I’m Canadian, but in my house hockey was not something that was ever watched or talked about. My father grew up in The Netherlands during WWII and my mother never liked the sport – but my grandfather did, he was a huge Habs (Montreal Canadiens) fan. He watched a lot of hockey. Anyway, in short, I never grew up with it. Then I met my husband and hockey came into my life. Although it was more like he watched hockey and I found something else to do. But then we had a boy and things changed. Though I wish now we had put our daughter into hockey – for some reason we never thought of it, and then again she never asked either.
So here it is 3:43 in the morning and I’m up typing this blog when I should be sleeping, but I can’t. Today at noon our son will play in his last game. It’s actually not really his last game, he has one more next week – the championship game. His team is in the running to win the division. However, they have one more game to put under their belts, to seel the deal, and very likely put them into first place heading into the championship game.
It has been an amazing 12 years and our son has always made us proud. He is one of those players who has always done his best. He has played both house league and Rep (representative – traveling team). He has been called up to play for higher divisions when they were short players. He was even called up to play for the Junior Bs last year (now Cs – you can check out what the difference is on Wikipedia). He has played forward and defense, though mostly forward and probably equally as either centre or winger. He has played as an assistant captain and captain (he’s a captain again this year). He has received player of the game awards on many occasions. He has scored numerous goals over the years and probably more assists, and he has sat in the penalty box. I can proudly say he has never been a “goon” and never fought – even when opposing players tried to start something. He has impressed his coaches and the coaches of opposing teams. One year one such coach commented on his great conduct and sportsmanship after he’d congratulated their goalie on a job well done.
So here I sit, now 4:08 AM, feeling a little emotional as yet another of my child’s stages/phases/milestones – is coming to an end. In another week there will be no more freezing in other arenas (our home arena is the warmest – no need for a blanket there). No more dining at some fast food place before or after a game as they always seemed to be right around meal time. No more smelly hockey equipment hanging up to dry on his hockey tree. No more cheering for his goals, his assists, or some other play he has made. I have albums and frames of pictures. There are hooks for his medals and shelves for his trophies. And in my mind I will always remember and hear his little voice:
“Look ma, it’s the Tie Domi!” he said to me as we stood outside the glass before stepping on the ice for another practice skate before we enroll him in to hockey. He isn’t quite steady on those blades yet, but he is determined.
I laughed a little as we watched the ice surface being cleaned. “No honey, it’s a Zamboni.”
I laced up his skates and the two of us headed out on to the ice for the parent and tot skate. He held my hand and together we went around the rink. Every once in awhile I stopped to pick him back up. After one turn around he was ready to try it on his own.
“If you can make it around all on your own, daddy and I will sign you up for hockey.”
“Okay!” He smiled, his blue eyes shone, he let go of my hand, and off he went on his own and he never looked back.