Wednesday, 9 April 2014

H is for Hockey Moms

I always thought it was an insult when my son complained I couldn’t tie his hockey skates tight enough. It was a blessing when one of the team fathers took over that responsibility until the kid was old enough to do his own skates up. Where were the thanks for dragging that stinky equipment bag around and spending all those hours driving him across the city from game to game?

That’s easy, the thanks was in watching him play. That boy could really skate and it was a pleasure to watch his games. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.

I earned my Hockey Mom status the usual way, up through the ranks of beginner skating, to house league, to All-Star, to Triple A. It began with one house league game a week, and one practice, then when All-Star was added another game and another practice. Hockey took up most of our evenings and at least one Saturday morning. When my son went Triple A it meant a home game, an away game, and a practice. Fewer nights out but so much more travelling.

We lived in the West end of Toronto and played games all over the city. I remember the days I rushed home from work, and did the drive thru bit, once to pick the kids up at home and the second time to feed them. I hated winter driving even then and hated the 401 highway at night, so I drove across the city by the fastest route I could find. Traffic was always bad and we were always under the gun, time wise.

Some nights I knew we were going to be late, and my son would dress in the backseat, all but his skates. I’d drop him off at the door of the arena so he could race ahead while I parked.

I remember the year we were in playoffs, and were playing in some arena just west of Yonge Street. My son collided with another player on a breakaway and fell to the ice, hurt. He made it off the ice wirh some help. Sitting on the half wall behind, his feet on the bench, the coach loosened his skate and applied ice to his ankle. I stayed in my seat, knowing better than to be the hovering Mom and embarrass him while he was being brave.

I could hear the coach talking to him, wanting to know if he could play and saw my son nod yes. With his skate tied tight, he jumped off the wall…and it was game over. His injury was more severe that we’d realized, and a hospital trip was in my immediate future. Turned out it wasn’t the ankle at all; he’d fractured his tibia, just below the knee. In emergency that night he was given a splint and an appointment the next morning with an orthopaedist. He ended up in a bright blue fibreglass cast from his toes to his groin, and we were done hockey for the year.

My grandson, Cole, at hockey, age 5.
The parents who support their kids in organized sports form a bond, cheering on their own kids and their teammates. It’s a group that may meet again, year after year, with some leaving, and others joining the pack, but everyone eager to watch their kids play. Neither sleet nor snow nor freezing cold will stop them from cheering the team on and giving their support, win or lose.

My daughter has a son of her own now, and he’s just finished his first year of hockey. Her creds were earned years ago, for she attended every one of her brother’s games, just as I did. She laughs about what a Hockey Mom she’s become, and has an idea what’s in store for her if her son’s obsession with hockey stays this keen.

Oh well, where else would you want to spend a cold winter’s evening?





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