Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hockey Ready!

Turns out my husband, Rob, is a hockey nut. I guess I knew this on some level. In our newlywed years I recall cowering in a corner of the couch stunned by the thunderous boom of my husband’s powerful vocal chords lambasting the hockey players from the comfort of his tattered lazy boy. But then we had babies, and things got busy. Plus his hockey team – the Philadelphia Flyers – was not doing so well, and hockey was given a time out.

Now, six years later, hockey is back in our lives with a vengeance. Rob has taken Jakey, our high-energy, exuberant 6-year-old, under his muscle-bound wing. He’s taught him the game, and suited him up with skates, numerous and laborious pads and a bladed, taped, hockey stick. Every possible weekend, for the past year, Rob has taken Jakey, and often our daughter Amanda, ice skating.

Amanda took to the ice immediately. Being of brave spirit, Amanda had no issue digging her skates in and gliding around the rink, even with a few falls here and there. But not Jakey. He belly-ached and cried and had no patience. When he fell, he would just lie flat on the ice and whimper. When our patience was in tact, we could cajole him to keep trying. Jakey would skate back and forth between the two of us and we would catch him in our arms and give him an enthusiastic squeeze – reminding me of the days when we were teaching him to walk. When our patience wasn’t in tact, we let him cry it out on the sidelines. But, Rob kept taking him.

Ultimately, it was Amanda who taught Jakey how to skate. By appealing to his competitive nature, she would say, “Let’s race!” and he would push his little legs as hard as he could to beat her. “You must have rockets in your skates!” we would say. He liked that a lot.

By about February, Jakey could skate. Then it became all about going to the rink for stick and puck and playing in our driveway with our new hockey net. Jakey just loved trying to score goals on us and was very proud of his “hockey ready” stance.

For Jakey’s 6th birthday, Rob took him to see a Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. Within the first 5 minutes Rob had to shield Jakey’s eyes when a guy was bloodied and knocked unconscious. But, he loved the game. And, now he is an official hockey fan too, screaming at the TV like his dad.

Rob has signed Jakey up for all sorts of hockey lessons and even sent him to night-time hockey summer camp in Mt. Vernon. I think this is when Rob got the idea that Jakey was good enough to try out for a travel team.

The tryouts were over the course of three days. Rob took him to the first tryout, but couldn’t make the second. So off I went with Jakey all suited up in his 17 pieces of hockey gear. When we got there, his name was not on the registration list. The woman in charge of the hockey registration -- appropriately named Frostine -- said that we needed to have registered months in advance. Frostine said that she would allow Jakey out on the ice, but it was unlikely that he would be considered. I called Rob from the rink and he was beside himself. But, Jakey skated and Rob took him to the 3rd tryout, just in case…

A week later, Rob got a call that Jakey had been put on a non-travel team. He was disappointed, and surprised as he felt that Jakey’s performance had been good enough to qualify him. But, not wanting to be the cliché, aggressive and pesky parent, he didn’t say anything.

At the Mite’s first practice, Jakey scored all the goals – five of them. Rob tried to contain himself, but when the fifth goal slid between the coach’s legs, he allowed himself to exercise those thunderous vocal chords.

And then he got another phone call. His cell phone rang while driving on the PA Turnpike…it was Frostine.

“Hi Rob, this is Frostine from the Hockey Club. I wanted to tell you that the coaches had a board meeting and we want to call Jakey up to the travel team.”

Rob called me immediately. I asked him if he was happy.

“Are you kidding?” he said. “It’s the best day of my life.”

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