We came home from Quebec City last night. We were there for my daughter’s “select” AAA hockey team’s tournament. We left early. We could have stayed another night and played two more games, but, my daughter’s team lost all four and were O.U.T., so we, the parental units, opted to save another $125 in hotel charges and drive after the last 7pm game, into the late night, home. It wasn’t easy but it was the right thing to do.
Isn’t that always the case? Ugh.
Olivia was devastated when we packed our bags and 9AM yesterday morning. They had two more games to play, and even though the first two went 0-6 and 0-4, Olivia was pretty sure her team might still make it to the championship round.
Let me color in the lines for you.
Vermont Shamrocks (our team): 13 girls from three states who practice 1x month prior to playing ~12 tournament games each month for three months. None of these girls see each other, let alone play with each other, except at these events. The team is scrappy in every way. Game jerseys are practice-jersey variety (those of you in the hockey world will understand the difference), with the team name stamped onto the front. No names on the back, just numbers. Plain white socks. The only other team “shwag” that exists, are the sweatshirts which players families could choose to purchase, so not all have it. Players wear the helmets of their regular “winter” team, so we have yellow, white, white w/pink stripes and black out there. The coaches just wear whatever. We look quite the rag-tag team. I’m pretty sure the Canadians are talking about our sad little team, but we can’t understand their French mocking-words.
ALL the other teams, almost exclusively Canadian, but including some NY and VT select teams have serious GEAR. Some even come on a chartered bus. So, their official team gear, that we saw, includes: two game jerseys, game helmet, socks for home & away, hockey bags, shorts & short sleeve shirts (for spring/summer) off ice, zip-up lightweight jacket, rink-jacket (all with team name & player name), coaches jackets (they say “coach Tim” or whatever), and some even seemed to have a “stick handler” someone to carry the sticks.
Here’s the byline on the website for their first opponent: “TO BE THE PREMIER YOUTH HOCKEY ORGANIZATION IN CANADA …” The all caps is theirs, not mine. They have NHL players for consultants. Their coaches are paid. They undoubtedly have invested much more money into the gig than our rag-tag group. Do they know our story? Would it give our little team any more respect? Or would they laugh more?
And then, to be the rag-tag team and to take a bath in every game. Oh, it’s so hard to watch.
Anyway, Olivia my dear girl, is not to be downhearted. She is not reading the writing on the wall. She has reasonsed that if they can win the next two games and score about 18 points, they could go another day.
How does one reason with that kind of thinking??
So I lied. What can I say? It was the only strategy I could think of that didn’t add insult to injury in the moment.
I told her we weren’t checking out, we were packing up. And that we’d stay if we won this game.
Not the best strategy.
In the end, I think she felt even worse – punished – because they lost. My lesson.
During the games, watching our girls play mostly bigger girls, mostly better, more physical, and watching our coaches try to figure out his motley crew, to whom they are also new, I began to feel sick. Sick at heart.
Why? Why? Why would we ever have agreed to her playing in a league where she and her team are the whipping post for all the other teams. To be scored on over and over. Game #3? lost 1-5; Game #4? They lost 0-9.
But somewhere between game 3 and game 4, I remembered that I want my daughter to enjoy playing hockey. That this was about ice time and getting to know how others played, and how others coached. That I want her to experience a world bigger than our little town, population 8,000. That playing hockey should be about playing hard and having fun. And that I can’t get too worked up about being the laughing stock of the tournament. My lesson.
We toured Old Quebec city with a couple of other families between games. I watched my daughter make new friends, be a good friend, take in the world around her. That’s time well spent.
At the last game, I watched them play their hearts out. They battled. There’s nothing to be ashamed about.
She knows now that even if she were to become her winter-team’s best player (which she likely won’t…) there’s still whole teams of better players in Canada. And I think that will help her keep perspective. And perhaps, while playing for her regular winter-team this coming year, she’ll really appreciate every game and every win. Her lesson.
So, this experiment of Select Hockey? Its okay. It’s not easy. But we’re all learning and having fun.
Another interesting weekend on the Journey of Parenting.