By Melissa Walsh
“He shoots. He scores!” The words of Foster Hewitt echo in the hockey mom’s mind while rising to cheer solid effort at a youth hockey game. She cheers for all the kids — though naturally, it is her hockey kid who will forever be her heart’s superstar.
He is her star because he is a “good” player, listening to the coach, heeding the authority of the ref, working hard to move the puck up the ice, maneuvering past and battling opponents. He rises early for practice without complaint. He religiously practices drills on lake ice or the driveway. When faced with aggressive play, excessive or within the rules, Mom’s player continues thinking through his game, envisioning his team’s next goal. The screaming from behind the glass is white noise. His focus is his game, honing instincts of head, heart, and hands.
And Mom’s job has been tough. She’s endured obnoxious parents and cringed as her child gets hit hard against the boards. She can spot disappointment on her player’s face from the bleachers, through the cage a hundred feet away, after fanning on a one-timer attempt or making a costly mistake on the back check.
Mom asks her player after a frustrating game or on the way to a 7 a.m. practice, “Are you having fun?”
“Yeah,” the player replies. “Great,” Mom says.
Mom signs the check for the next ice bill knowing that her player’s hockey development is owned by him, not by her. He defines his hockey dreams and craves the excitement of the hockey life. She is proud of her player, because she understands that, by accepting this challenge, her child volunteered for a lesson that will support his development into adulthood — the lesson of puck control. Her player is learning how to rise after getting knocked down. He’s learning essential skills for carrying a responsibility to net. He’s developing instincts for jumping over and maneuvering around obstacles, maturing in self-discipline and self-control. Mom’s player practices techniques for dangling and protecting the puck, creating zone and the chance, looking for a teammate to feed a pass to or taking the shot himself.
She is confident that he will enter into the game of life as an assertive and disciplined adult. The character he cultivated during the hockey experience will empower him for serving in a job, heading up a family, or volunteering for his community or nation. Throughout his life, Mom’s player will start out each new morning with the words of Bob Johnson in mind — “It’s a great day for hockey!”