The Quinte Spitfires play for their coach. May, 2010.
It was a hard weekend for this Hockey Mom in Canada. With heavy hearts, we left for Toronto for a Spring Hockey tournament, for the first time we had both my boys playing. What made it so difficult was that early Friday morning, we learned that our son’s coach, and our good friend, had sustained serious injuries in a car accident. Our son had been looking forward to traveling to Toronto with his family just a few hours after the accident occurred.
A lot goes through your mind in times like these, and most of the first couple of days are a blur. I can’t begin to imagine what his wife (and fellow Admin on Hockey Mom in Canada) was going through that first morning. Partially in shock, we all packed up and left for the tournament, because we knew that’s what our coach would want us to do – get the kids on the ice, and go and have fun. But as we waited through the first day, and then the next, to find out if our coach, and good friend, would make it, we hockey parents had some good talks about what hockey really means to us, or rather, how being involved in hockey has affected our lives.
Hockey in Canada is so much more than just a game played on ice, or at least it becomes that once your children are involved. In our area, and all across the country, we come together at one arena or another several times a week. Families involved in hockey are together all the time. In fact, as I was reminded by a Hockey Dad/Friend this weekend, “During the winter, I see the parents on (son’s) team more than I see my wife”.
We know the players on the teams and we grow to care for them deeply. We become protective of them, and we’re willing to yell at the ref when a call is missed and someone else’s child is hurt. We know the parents, we know the siblings and keep an eye on them for each other, and we make sure that the grandparents are included in our festivities. We celebrate wins together, and contemplate losses, but often, that’s not what it’s all about. In the lobbies, in the stands, or on car rides to and from games, we also talk about work, our families, our successes, our challenges. We become close friends, more than that, we become a hockey family. When I take my kids to the arena on any given day for a hockey game or practice, I know that my “hockey family” is there, and I look forward to seeing them. I know that if I need help, all I have to do is ask, and I know that they feel the same.
This weekend, as our Coach/Friend/Hockey Dad showed us that he is the toughest, bravest, and strongest person we know, the rest of us pulled together even more tightly in our hockey family. Support for our little weakened team (we played with only 8 skaters all weekend) was overwhelming from our hockey parents both from our home towns, and from people we’ve never met. Our little skaters played their hearts out game after game, knowing that’s what Coach, and Coach’s son (one of our absent players) would want them to do. Support has been overwhelming from Hockey Moms in Canada who have sent messages wanting to be sure that Coach knows that his extended hockey family across Canada is pulling for him, his wife, and their three sons.
One reason that I was so excited to begin the Hockey Mom in Canada page was because I have always believed that there is a real sense of the community that exists for those involved in hockey. I think that’s part of what makes it “Canada’s Game”. Taking time to reflect on the impact my coach/friend and his family have had on my family over the years (and the experiences we’ve lived together) solidified this belief. And, your well-wishes have reinforced my belief in this sense of community even more.
I’m pleased to say that Coach is on the long road to recovery now, and that even though there will be some rough times ahead, his hockey family will be ready to do whatever it takes to support him. So, here’s to you, John, for the hockey memories you’ve provided all of us already, and to the many, many more that you’ll be providing in the future. We are all so lucky to have you as part of our hockey family.