So-I used to wonder what game they were talking about? Now I at least know that it involves 5 players on each team, 2 goalies, they use this thing called a puck, the point is to shoot that said puck into the opponents net and score goals!! Seems pretty straight forward right? Hell no!!!!!!!
I am only coming at this from a place of having a 9-yr. old obsessed with the game, obsessed with his current team (shout out to Quinte Red Devils AAA U-10-yay!) and obsessed with all the fun that comes along with it. You would hope that would be all that was required for kids to “play” and enjoy the spirit that this sport brings!
Full disclosure this is only a glimpse into our journey and the world we are part of now-where are we hoping to go? The NHL of course, hahahahaha!!! Nope, not even a little bit!! Hewett’s current life ambitions involve farming and having a farm to table restaurant in the Bahamas with his buddies. Helipads for easy access to family and the items that can’t be grown in tropical locations! Ok...so maybe the odds are for the NHL might not seem too far fetched??
I can remember signing Hewett up for his very first year of IP hockey- "he is late by one year and you should have started last year in jr. IP." Ummmmm, I thought to myself and let's just mention we didn't even know where all the equipment went on this tiny body, he was still peeing his pants last year lady and can't you see he is making snow angels right now and crying to get off this frozen piece of water. Yeah, last year would have made much more sense! I can pinpoint it now-this is where it all began!
As we watched Hewett progress through his first year of hockey, moved up a level even half way through the season (I would never tell you that this was after he had to drop down a level because snow angels and that mom weren't having any of it) he learned to love the game even more and he really became responsive to coaching-at least he was listening to someone (god, 5 year olds can be assholes).
Well we made it through the first season of hockey-YAY!!The second one came and went and the third is where all hell broke loose! People would tell us that our boy looked great out there, he has some real talent, he should aim for here and there and everywhere-PUMP THE BREAKS!!! We had no clue- I would just often say thanks and tell them that he just loved being out there and that this was his happy place because that was the truth!
But wait-there was spring and summer hockey? Aren't we supposed to play summer sports during the hot months and get tans on the soccer fields? How can I do all that inside an arena? Bewilderment set in when I learned of training centers and dryland training and that there were even hockey leagues out there that held weekend tournaments and you would travel far, yep-in your car to get there! What world were we living in?! We had to adjust and FAST!
These adjustments have carried us to some really cool places and some really fun tournaments, we have met some amazing people, watched Hewett form into a real team player and also witnessed myself change and then change again. I became more competitive (how could this be?) I became more worried about how Hewett looked out there, I was so focused on him and only him. Is he playing his best, can he be faster than that, what can I do to make him faster, does he need more sleep, more food, less food, etc.? This list grew if you can believe it-Yep, I was spiraling into a real crazy mom who had sunk into the trap and wasn't even watching the game. I wasn't even there to really enjoy this and what joy it was bringing to Hewett. I was missing the whole point of this and falling ill to the political game that is always lurking in the background. I vowed right then and there to make a change and I have.
Just to be clear- I still like to win!!
Take what you want from this but in all honesty there is so much good that comes from competitive levels of sports. We have made what I would like to say are genuine friends whom I adore and actually really like, my son has grown into such a respectable, nice, friendly, outgoing, centered and focused individual. Now, I do take some credit for the amazing little man he is, but his coaches and the game have taken him to a whole new level. For that alone it is worth it for us to travel so much, put 3500km on my car each month (yep that is no joke-thank god my brother is a mechanic as I seem to need an oil change way too often) packing dinners into thermos', spelling and math lessons in the car. We also have had the pleasure of getting to know each other as a family even more as we spend a lot of time in tight quarters=priceless! Lastly, Hewett's rapping skills are on point these days-mine too for that matter as we spend a lot of rides blasting music and singing together!
I know that there can sometimes be a bad rap out there and sometimes AAA hockey parents specifically can be grouped into this crazy, scary, over the top, insane and nutso type of people but we are not all like that-trust me there are some that are and we just have to understand that their passions run deep and we send them love for when the time comes that their child isn't drafted, lol. I know I am so mean!
As the season opens up again tomorrow (in Ontario) I hope it brings a sense of happiness to all team sport parents in knowing that your child's mental health and physical needs are going to be met again! I hope it means better nights sleep, happier smiles on those wee faces, more insane dinner times as we all race around to get them everywhere, more tailgate bevvies, (for the adults only) more friendships nurtured and crap-cold hands and feet for us again!
Be sure to thank your coaches, the staff at arenas and all the volunteers that keep these leagues going,
Cheers to the The Good Old Hockey Game and Go Leafs Go-My blog, my team!!