Monday, February 1, 2016

The end of the hockey road

This is Brandon's last year of playing hockey.  I was grateful to watch him play at least one more year, for Elizabethtown College.  Next year he is transferring to another college. One that doesn't have a hockey team.  I feel like I am in mourning.  Brandon has played hockey since he was six years old.  To suddenly end, when it seems like yesterday he was learning how to skate, is heartbreaking.

I want every new hockey parent to read this and tuck it away and reread it when their child no longer plays. 

The very first thing Brandon's hockey coach told us was that none of our kids will be going to NHL. Here's a few things he forgot to mention that first year: 

You WILL go to the wrong rink. You will get thrown out of a rink.

There will be times you call another players mother an asshole. You will hear other parents call YOUR child an asshole. There are times you will agree with them. The first time you hear your child curse will be at the rink. It may be the first time you hear his church going grandma curse too. You will be threatened with jail time. You will threaten other people with jail time. You will get in arguments with strangers. That six year old that you called an asshole will STILL be an asshole when you play him again at 16. So will his mother. So will your son. So will you. So is every ref you will EVER meet. Especially when you lose.

You will plan strategies for the championship game after you consumed a six pack. You will be so frustrated after a game that you just may leave your player at a rink in another town. You might even do it on purpose. 

You will think the coach can't coach. You will think you CAN coach. You will believe this even more after a few drinks at the hotel bar. (It doesn't matter that he played D1 hockey, YOU have watched thousands of games.) 

You will spend more money on one stick than your current car payment.  

Your child will play with an ear infection, he will play with strep throat and he will play with 102 fever. Heck, he probably got it from a teammate . Illness spreads through a hockey team quicker than a line change. 

There will NEVER be a reason your player deserved that penalty. You will defend your son to referees, coaches, other parents but mostly to hotel security in other states. Your entire house including your back porch and garage will be decorated with hockey gear 12 months out of the year, not just during hockey season. 

You will share hotel rooms, car rides and every childhood illness. Your player will miss more school then all of your other children combined. Most of those "sick" days will be tournament Fridays. When the Elementary school principal smiles smugly on a Monday morning and asks your child how he's feeling it's because he KNOWS you were in New York on Friday for a game. 

Most weekends you will wake up with six or more players sleeping in your living room. You will know these players by number and birth year, not always by name. That mom you called an asshole just might end up as the manager on your team the following season and her asshole son will be one of the numbers asleep on your living room floor. 

You will refer to 7 AM as midday. You will laugh and happily pay the 90 registration fee you used to complain about for little league. You will try to convince your hockey player to go out for little league. You will quickly realize the Stanley Cup isn't the most important cup. 

You won't realize how fast the time is going, you won't appreciate it and you will miss it. No your child is NOT going to the NHL. He probably won't even play D1. (Thank God for men's league.) But he will learn how to lace up his own skates and in the end, those tiny little skates will be bigger than a squirt parent's ego after a championship win. And that coach, the one who you swore couldn't coach and offended you by saying your little cherub wasn't going to the NHL, you'll want to thank him. Thank him for his time, his talent and for his help in turning your son into a man.


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