Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Meaning of Youth Hockey

It's hockey season again for the village recreation youth league, which means strapping on pads, tying up those inline skate laces, and giggling about the idea of two twelve-year-old boys wearing athletic supporters.

It means hauling some of the foulest smelling bags of rancid equipment ever created by man or God to and from the outdoor rink in the hopes that no rain falls (or in the case of this year, no snow) to cancel practice.

It means praying someone from the village Parks & Rec office has finally gotten the lights under control so the kids don't end up in blackout conditions before their hour is up.

It means freezing your butt off sitting on ice-cold bleachers and craning your neck to see around all those people who like to stand at the glass completely oblivious to the fact that they themselves are not transparent.

It means hollering when you see the other team getting away with what you think is a clearly visible infraction and cheering when your kids' team gets away with an infraction that you prefer to think of as a high-quality aggressive play, even though in reality you barely understand the rules of the game.

It means yelling at some kid on your sons' team for standing still as a statue while the puck slips away only to realize he's one of your sons.

It means keeping an eye on your dog on those occasions you happen to bring her to the rink to keep her from eating all the loose strips of fat tape and discarded mouth guards she finds under the bleachers.

It means shifting in an instant from casual banter with your friends to screaming like a crazed psychopath when your kid scores, drives down the rink with the puck, makes an amazing pass, blocks an attempt on goal with a swat of his lightening fast reflexes, or robs the other team of a scoring opportunity by smothering the puck with his body.

It means celebrating when your kids' team ties that one team in the league that's stacked with taller, faster kids and led by an aggressive coach who's more interested in winning than teaching sportsmanship.

It means hearing through long-distance phone conversations about how one of your sons scored in the very first game of the season and your other son held the opposing team to a tie with amazing saves through three periods of play.

It means fighting back the tears when you're sitting in a hotel room three-hundred miles from home and your son says "I wish you could have been there, Dad" after their first game of the season.

2014 Mark Feggeler

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