I’m glad my kids don’t play summer hockey. It’s summer and I want to be sipping margarita slushies on the dock, not the ones dispensed from the arena canteen!
I never truly believed that any of my three hockey players would make it to the NHL but I did once harbour secret fantasies (not so secret maybe) about them securing hockey scholarships at fancy U.S. colleges and universities. So, naturally I bought into all this hockey hype.
Apparently this is what it takes to make it to the NHL: High-level competitive hockey throughout the regular season, followed by spring and summer hockey, including summer camps and clinics and then tryouts in the fall (or spring depending on your association). Add on to this schedule some year-round, dry land training and the best new hockey equipment.
So for the sake of a scholarship or two, I thought it worthwhile to set aside my adult slushie for a while. My eldest son was once asked to join a spring hockey team. This was after the regular season had just ended and my two other kids had wrapped up their hockey seasons. While I know the spring hockey season is not as long as the regular one (Usually April through July, at least in our neck of the woods), I thought we could take a break until summer hockey camps started and fall tryouts.
Nevertheless, I was as excited for him that spring as he was, we had a lot of family hockey weekends where all five of us piled into the car for various hockey tournaments around the region. We then glided right from spring hockey into summer camps, goalie clinics and tryouts, and then ultimately right back to the regular hockey season in the fall. Hockey – the year-round sport.
As it turns out, this would be our one and only experience with offseason hockey (save for summer camps, clinics, and tryouts). My son soon started attending a sleep-away camp and summer hockey conflicted with camp.
After the very first Visitors Day, his brother and sister would also buy into the camp hype and summer hockey was never again mentioned in our household. I am now very grateful for our family’s time away from hockey (never mind the fact that I soon had a kid-free July too!) but more grateful that we realized early in their lives that there is more to summer than hockey. Had we skipped summer camp and urged them to all continue with summer hockey, would they now be playing NCAA hockey? Maybe. Possibly. Who knows?
I do know, however, that we’ve instead wasted some precious summer hockey hours sleeping, canoeing, swimming, camping, and renewing family relationships that may have been affronted by our hectic winter hockey schedule.
I realize it’s challenging for families to strive for balance between hockey and family. We all want the best for our children and we want to encourage them to try their hardest do the best they absolutely can. I will never know that pride a parent feels when their child is granted an all-expense paid university scholarship, or carrying the Canadian flag at the Olympics or donning a team jersey at the NHL or CWHL draft, but frankly, very few parents do. For the vast majority of Canadians, us included, hockey is best loved and enjoyed during hockey season. Period.
So if you’re out there schlepping your player to hockey, hockey and more hockey, I hope you’ve found the balance your family needs. As for me? I’ll have a margarita slushie on the dock for you.
Three cheers for the hockey moms braving the summer freeze in the arenas – leave your flip lops at home.
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