I am a hockey mom. I have braved the bitter cold to cheer for my son at outdoor rinks. I have watched the sunrise as we loaded the car for out-of-state games (often). And I have directed considerable resources to support his love of the game.
I do it all gladly, because I’ve witnessed firsthand the growth that occurs out there on the ice — important life lessons that have nothing to do with stick-handling skills. And, selfishly, because I can’t bear to miss those moments of joy when his slapshot finds the net.
But I do not do it alone.
Like most hockey moms, I rely on and contribute to an elaborate carpool system to deliver our sons to late-night practices from August through March. I huddle with other parents for tips on how to survive with those smelly hockey bags in the house (#lostcause). And I privately praise that good dad in the locker room who restores morale weekly by crowning a different player MVP with a dollar store cowboy hat, regardless of what the scoreboard may say. (We lose a lot.)
We may not have jerseys with numbers on our backs, but make no mistake, we are a team. The support we show each other makes it possible for our kids to pursue their passion.
In this, hockey is not unique. Sports parents are a tight-knit community that looks out for its own.
They are fiercely protective of each other’s kids and quick to congratulate when one of the families on the team is celebrating a new job, a new house, or the birth of a child. They also rally together when one of the players is injured or ill, circulating group get-well cards and texting offers to help.
As a hockey mom, I, too, have shared hand warmers when other families (including those on the opposing team) left them at home and made coffee runs unsolicited to ward off the chill, even as I have thanked others for their kindness in retaping my son’s stick on the bench.
Through acts of mutuality, we are working together to develop young athletes and, more importantly, young adults and future leaders.
I couldn’t do it without them, and I’m glad I don’t have to.
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