The end of another hockey season. Not just any season … the final season. One more “done” checked off the list for senior year. One step closer to an empty nest.
The closing of this chapter hits harder than others. The past 18 years have been spent bundled up in ice rinks cheering on both of our son’s teams. I remember people warning us not to allow our boys to play hockey … “it’s so expensive”, “very time consuming”, “there’s so much travel”. All true, but I wouldn’t trade the time, travel and money spent for anything.
Yes, I openly admit … I am a “hockey mom”. I could be heard shouting from the stands and caught wearing my player’s photo button and team colors. I’m not apologizing and have no regrets, as I hang up my blue and gold scarf and bleacher blanket.
So many lessons learned on and off the ice, beyond just the skills of the game. And, the players were not the only ones to gain from the experience. Life lessons were learned by everyone involved … players, parents, families and friends. The thing about team sports, the character-building take aways are invaluable.
Team-building, leadership, loyalty, diligence, respect, perseverance, the ability to manage failure and the value of hard work … just a few of the important attributes gained from team sports. Not the type of things typically taught in the classroom.
Seeing teams bond and grow throughout a season is quite a transformation. We’ve watched players develop from wobbly youngsters trying to remain upright on skates to young adults banging opponents into the boards. Starting as Mini Mites, they grew into Mites to Squirts to Pee Wees to Bantoms, where checking was officially introduced, and finally to the High School team.
Friendships were formed through the camaraderie of teammates and the gathering of families cheering in the stands. We cheered together for goals scored, held our breath for players down on the ice, high fived for big wins and hugged tight for tough losses.
As the Zamboni clears the ice following the final game, I hold back tears. I also holdfast to the memories and know for certain the time, money and travel dedicated to hockey over the years will serve our sons well for what’s next, and throughout the rest of their lives.