Tonight is hockey finals for three out of four Mitton kids who play diligently on Friday nights. The last night of the season! I cannot say that I am disappointed. Now, please note, we “do hockey” at our house. NHL.com is book marked and regularly read on our computer. My boys know the stats of all their favourite stars, their celebrity crushes, and what they ate for breakfast. My very own grandmother was known to shout at the television set during a particularly good play. My youngest daughter was eager to show up the boys with her newly learned skating skills and isn’t afraid of a good slap shot. We play year round… on ice in the winter and on the street all summer. We even held our own Stanley cup playoffs and had a trophy presentation complete with the kisses of the piggy-bank-turned-ultimate-prize. In spite of the fact that I own a book called “50 Things to Make with a Broken Hockey Stick”…. I am so not a hockey mom.
I enjoy watching my kids excel at anything. I try and encourage them and strengthen their confidence by attending any activity they choose. I do not, however, revel in freezing my tush-y off, huddled around a coffee cup and spending hours on end in slightly dank and dingy arenas trying to keep warm. Okay, most hockey moms will say the same… they don’t like the chill of the arena and dealing with the ever growing pile of equipment and endless trips to the skate sharpening guy. I have heard many a hockey mom complain that their teenager’s equipment could get up and walk away on it’s own –it stinks so bad. I shudder at the microbe population taking up residence in my mini van! I have heard this from many a hockey wife, too! Currently, there are no less than 5 giant hockey bags in my basement… and a stack of hockey sticks in my shower?! I do not understand this. Only 3 of my kids play.
But you are Canadian they say … you are supposed to love “The good ol’ hockey game “/Stompin’ Tom and all that. It’s in your blood, they say. We have Tim Horton’s for goodness’ sake! Sorry. It’s not my thing. For many families in Canada, it certainly IS a thing! According to CBC news, the estimated total cost to a Canadian family with one child playing in minor hockey at the triple A level (the highest caliber in the minors) is between $8000-$15000 annually. One kid. I have four. And a husband and a few pets. As much as my eldest son would love to play AAA (and he could too… he’s got some skill!) we had to make the decision that our family simply could not balance everyone’s individual activities at such a level. So I muse again, why?
I will fully admit that I am not a sport lover… I was that kid who took Saturday morning art classes and hated swimming lessons. I really am not that hockey mom who shines at the competitiveness of it all and works herself up into a fan frenzy. From what I observe, competitive sports does something to people. Often it is magnified ten fold when we see it ignited in our kids.
The fact that all of us seek acceptance and affirmation often perpetuates the game. We want to be good at what we do. We aim for the prize because it provides us with the recognition that we crave so badly. Sports creates an outlet for some kids who may not be the “academic one” in school… but man, can they skate. (Yes, Art is another outlet, no worries my fellow Saturday morning art class alumni). But the game of hockey drives many a feisty creature to a new level of purpose. There is a new movie coming out soon, produced by Clint Eastwood, called “Indian Horse”…based on a true story of a young man who’s escape from tragedy was yup, you guessed it, hockey. I haven’t seen it yet, but it marks the story emphasized by so many players… hockey gives them something to escape to. Something to excel at, to revel in.
Often it is not about winning… I can pretty much guarantee we are not going to be first place at finals tonight. To me, it is about playing the game well. 2 Timothy 2 reminds us that we are to stand approved by our character and integrity. I expect my boys, especially, but all of my children to play the game with strength, purpose and by competing according to the rules. They are allowed to be disappointed. They are allowed to be angry at a play, call or loss of game. They are allowed to fail and not get the winning goal. Or any goal. They are not allowed to cop an attitude about it.
Hockey moms rejoice. Not-so-hockey-moms take notes. Those smelly hockey bags may prove to be a life lesson. Sometimes you get hit up against the boards. Sometimes life is not fair. Get up and try again. Do it with determination and learn from your mistakes. Practice your skill. Aim for the trophy. Remember that each player on the team has purpose. Being quarrelsome and resentful will get you no where. Those frozen parents on the bench are there to coach, encourage, and help you grow. Oh… and please learn to store your sticks somewhere other than the shower. You might need the shower after the game.
In light of the recent tragedy in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, where 15 lives were lost, and many others changed forever, I encourage my readers to pray for the hockey moms who have lost their children. I started writing this post before Friday’s events unfolded, and as much as I write a little tongue in cheek about competitive hockey, I recognize that the Broncos team is suffering greatly. They would easily trade in all the stinky equipment and shower sticks for the return of their beloved family members. My heart is, again, reminded how hockey truly does impact so many of us; as parents, as family, as a nation. God is in control and yet, He allows us to question why such tragedies happen. I don’t know the answers either, but perhaps part of its purpose is to be encouraged and strengthened by one another as we aim, with dignity, character, and team spirit, to reach the goal between the posts at the other end of the ice.