Friday, January 28, 2011

A Hockey Mom's 'AH HA' Moment

I recall vividly the day my son came to me and said, "Mom, I want to play hockey." That was the last thing I expected to hear from my 9-year old who had never even been on a pair of ice skates. "Honey, there is no hockey here," I quietly replied. "Uh huh, Mom! I heard it on the radio." Well, of course, I laughed hysterically, but he was insistent and oh-so serious. As I thumbed through the local newspaper, there it was--the dreaded hockey registration notice. It appeared that a group of residents in a nearby town were starting an organized hockey league.

Therefore, I did what I thought every other mother in my predicament would do--signed him up! Only later did I discover that a few of my friends thought I was crazy--driving 40 miles every day after school for practice and spending weekends going to games and tournaments in Canada and North Dakota, traveling even as far as Grand Forks, ND, and Moorhead, MN. Was I really crazy? Probably! Then again, it's what he wanted to do. If at any time he would have told me that he wanted to quit, I would have agreed because it meant that it was no longer "fun" for him. In fact, as a junior in high school, he played basketball, which was somewhat eye-opening. However, that sport was short-lived as he spent his senior year on the ice.

I don't know exactly why he chose the goalie position, but it was more than likely because his skating skills left just a little bit to be desired. I had always thought that a goalie needed to possess a certain mindset because it was easy for other players and parents to blame him for a game loss. That's when an excellent coach could and would make all the difference.

As a mother, I have to admit that I was one of those over-exuberant fans. I never coached from the sidelines, but my favorite "yell" was "Be ready, Bud! Be ready, Bud!" One time I had to laugh at a fellow parent, who didn't attend many games and asked me, "Who is Bud? Do we have a Bud on our team?" *shaking my head*

My most memorable "hockey mom" moment came during my son's PeeWee (age 12) game. His team was playing in the ND State Championship consolation game for 3rd or 4th place. If they won, it would be the first trophy brought home by any team in the 4-year existence of the Richland Ranger's league.

At the end of the regulation game, the score was tied; thus, a shootout--five one-on-one shots on each goalie. Oh! I was so excited and yet so nervous for him. I could never imagine being in that position. But he held his own, and the score was still tied at the end of the shootout. Another shootout! I was BEYOND nervous at this point! As the coach was selecting his next five shooters, I saw my son leave the net. What was he doing?? He skated to the bench, lifted his helmet, said something to the coach, and returned to the net. How strange was THAT! After the game, I asked Russ, the coach, what Jason had said to him. Russ laughed and said, "He told me, 'Don't worry, Coach. I've got 'em covered." And he did! The trophy was theirs!

On the ride home in the car that day, I learned two valuable lessons from my children. Firstly, never under-estimate the love of a hockey sister. While we were all buzzing about the game, Janelle, age 10 at the time, excitedly blurted out, "I have a present for you, Brother!" pulling out of her pocket the "game-winning" puck and handing it over with pride. She beamed from ear to ear as she explained that she had found the official and asked for the puck because that goalie was her Brother! :)

Secondly, I learned to never under-estimate the influence that a coach can have on my children, good or bad. Once again I had one of those "bad mom" moments as I asked my son, "Wow! You had a super game! How does it feel to be a hero?" He gave me the most peculiar look and quietly replied, "Mom, I'm not a hero. I'm one of a team." In my eyes, Russ was now the true hero--he taught my son well.

I now have two grandsons playing hockey; and yes, I admit that it's probably all my fault. The picture on the left was taken from the front page of the Dickinson Press. Jackson, 6, is the little guy in blue. This is his second season, and he loves the game! The second pic is Leif, 5, who is in his first year of hockey in Moorhead, Minnesota. His brother Jacob is planning to join next year.

I only hope that during those 8 years as a "hockey mom" and a "basketball, volleyball, and track mom," I was able to give my children insight as to what to do and, even more importantly, what NOT do as a supportive parent. I definitely made my mistakes, but hopefully the lessons I learned will guide them as they now become the supportive "hockey mom and dad."

It's all about having "FUN!"

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