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It’s All Over

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Well it is finally here……after 20+ years of taking my four children to their hockey, baseball, soccer, track and field and cross-country practices and games, it all came to an end last night after my youngest daughter’s last soccer game of the season. Minor sports are over.  Am I sad?…..A little, but I’m pretty sure I will be able to find something to fill the void.

Growing up, my siblings and I were not involved in playing sports other than school sports, so when I had my first baby I gave no thought to the possibility that I would one day be a hockey/baseball/soccer Mom.

When my son was born he already had some older cousins who were involved in sports, mainly hockey. I remember taking him to the arena to watch his cousins hockey games when he was about two years old, not because I was interested in watching a sport I basically knew nothing about, but because if I wanted to visit with any of my brothers or sisters-in-law during the winter months that’s where they were so that’s where we visited. I hated the arena, it was cold, smelly and loud. I said over and over my kids were not ever playing hockey because I had no intention of spending my time hanging out in a freezing cold arena like my in-laws did. Let’s not kid ourselves here, we can all be in complete control of what our kids do, where they go, who they see……right up until they start school, make friends and get their own ideas of what they want to do, and that’s how it was for me. Ryan decided he wanted to play hockey and since he had all the necessary gear handed down to him from his cousin’s, who was I to stand in the way of his minor hockey career? I ate my words over and over as three of my children ended up playing hockey, one at rep level, three played soccer, again one at rep level, three played baseball, and one did track and field and cross-country running.

Over the years when all four kids were playing sports at the same time there were some hectic evenings and some creative planning to get them all where they needed to be and on time. With only one vehicle to do the transporting it got a little crazy by times. We had evenings when we had to drop off our oldest with his brother at the ball field early, (before any other parents or coaches were there) then take our oldest daughter to her soccer field and wait until at least one other parent showed up, scoot to our youngest daughter’s t-ball field and one of us would stay with her while the other one went back to the first field to pick up our oldest son to get him from his brother’s baseball game or practice (which had now started) and take him to his ball field for his game, and then hurry back to watch our youngest daughter’s game and as soon as it was over rush off to the next child’s game see what we could have of it and move on until we managed to catch as much of each one as we could and get them all collected and back home again. Those nights were memorable indeed, it meant a quick supper at home right after work, that was pre-prepared or take-out (we ate a lot of take-out, I’m not really ambitious enough to be a pre-preparer of meals). We missed a lot of some of their games but took in as many as we could of each of them. There were a few snags in our system, like forgetting to pick up our daughter from a soccer game, arriving at the wrong field for a game and rushing around to try to figure out where we were supposed to be, and things like that, but we generally managed to make it work.

I will say my years as a “sports Mom” were very entertaining and educational. It took so long for me to figure out what an “off-side” was in hockey. Every time the referee blew the whistle I asked whoever was beside me what it was for (I’m sure I was the most annoying “new” sports mom ever), I eventually figured it out along with many other infractions of the game, thanks to the patience of the other parents who took the time to explain it to me……over and over. Of course once the off-side in hockey was figured out I was stumped by how anyone could be off-side in soccer…..I saw no line on the field to indicate an off-side.

I have to admit that the last few years have been a little easier with just one child in sports, however she was involved in Rep Hockey, Rep Soccer, Track and Field and competitive Cross Country running all at the same time, so while we just had the one child to transport, there were just as many places to transport her to and sometimes there were conflicts where we would need to take her to a hockey game right after a soccer practice or vice versa.

It is true what they say, your kids sports become your social life. My husband and I have met some really great people, and made some good friends over the years at the arena, soccer field, the track and cross-country races. When you spend a couple of hours at least twice a week, every week, with the same people you definitely build friendships. We will miss this as much as we will miss watching our kids play their sports with the skills and passion that gave them the desire to play in the first place.

Now that the days of living our lives based on kids sports schedules have come to an end my husband and will finally have some “us” time. I think it might take me a while to adjust to not having to plan out every evening meal depending on how much time we have before having to be somewhere, but I’m ready to start getting used to it. I say bring on the next chapter of my life……maybe there will be some grand-kids in our future and we can start watching sports all over again. 🙂

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Hockey tryouts……

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Hockey tryouts for the 2011 / 2012 season begin today…..and Erika is not trying out.

I have been a hockey mom since Ryan started playing when he was little, first in Cambridge (outdoors), then in Hampton and finally Guelph. Nick played as well and then Erika started playing.

When Erika was little and the kids would play hockey in our basement she just wanted to be the Zamboni (not the driver the actual Zamboni) and run around cleaning the ice while they took a break, but she gave up that dream to become a player once she started school.

Erika’s first year of House League hockey was somewhat sad to watch, she didn’t know how to skate. She would run on her skates from one end of the rink to the other just trying to keep up with the play, I’m not sure she ever touched the puck that first year. Her coach, Franco worked very hard that year to teach her to skate and I would have to say between him working with her at practices and Chris taking her public skating, she actually learned to skate pretty well.

Erika’s first year of Rep was with the Atom Select team and she has been playing various levels of Rep ever since. Her most successful year was with the Bantam BB team. They won Provincial Gold after finishing first in their league and taking Silver in league playoffs. It was a great season!!

This past season was not nearly as successful, not just from a winning perspective but also from an attitude and coaching perspective. It seemed the goal of this team was just to make sure they made it to San Jose for a tournament. The trip was all well and good and I know Erika had a great time there but I think the goal should have been to finish first in their league and at least make it to Provincials. This may not have been the outcome but they still should have strived for it. It was a team of skilled players but they didn’t work as a team most of the time, and it showed in the results.

At the end of the season Erika had enough, she told us she did not want to play hockey any more….she wants to devote her time to her other sports love….soccer. At this point in her life she really did have to let something go and I think how she felt about the level of play on her hockey team this past season certainly made it easier for her to make that decision.

Mixed emotions….for me, not for Erika, she made her decision and feels good about it, and it was always her decision to make.

What I will miss….watching Erika play, cheering when she scores, team parties, socializing with other hockey parents.

What I won’t miss……the expense, the time spent in cold arenas, the nasty smell of hockey gear strung out to dry, 6am practices, the constant skate sharpening, the travelling in nasty weather, the stress at tryouts (hers not mine).

E's last Hockey Photo.... Midget A 2010/2011 Season

Guelph Thunder Midget A 2010/2011 Season

So here we are….tryouts are here and we are sitting home relaxing while Erika is spending time with friends who are not hockey players. I think I can get used to it. 🙂