Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Good Ol Hockey Game

I grew up in gymnastics, dance and acting but my weekends were shared between the stage and the rink. I enjoyed watching my little brother play hockey, and I loved going along to tournaments because that meant eating at restaurants, making signs and wearing face paint. My brother grew up playing on teams with the same bunch of guys, and we got to know their families through hockey parties, practices and games. They were my brother's memories, but I loved that they were woven into my own childhood's story.
Attending hockey games is not something I left behind with my braces and stirrup pants. Whenever I visit home, I usually end up sitting on a cold metal arena seat watching my little sister play hockey, or our friends play a game in the adult rec league. I know as long as I'm married to Rich, there will be a stinky hockey bag in my garage and weekly excuses to get a warm cup of Timmies and sit in a cold arena cheering him on. I haven't always liked the inconvenience of stopping what I'm doing to go sit in a cold arena, but I'm usually glad once I'm there. And no matter what, I will always pull for the Ottawa Senators, even if I don't follow the team as close as do some.
Yesterday was Hockey Day in Canada, and it provided me ample opportunity to reminisce about the Canadiana of hockey, how it is a sport that can be a connector in so many different lives. As a coach, parent, spectator or player, once it's in you, it's in you. I loved bringing my little family down to the Canada Games Centre, where the festivities were centralized. We saw the Stanley Cup, shook hands with hockey legends, and were thrilled to be invited onto national TV with CBC host Ron McLean!
Abby's cute face and Rich's Sens jersey earned them a spot right beside the host as he filmed live spots for all the country to see. They were preparing to throw to the Ottawa-Edmonton game, so while I stood back and took pictures of it all, a crew member asked me to stand on McLean's left in my own Sens jersey to cheer on my home team. He made small talk with us off camera, and we mentioned that Abby had been born on Hockey Day in Canada two years ago, to his great delight! When they returned live, we got to introduce ourselves and tell our story. Afterwards, the crew insisted we stop to take a picture with Ron to capture the great memory!
We left the Games Centre yesterday morning elated, simply thrilled to have shared such a unique hockey memory together! It was even more thrilling to return home and receive all kinds of messages from friends across Canada who had seen us on their TVs! We continued to watch the footage of our adopted hometown all day. I must say, it made me teary with pride to see Whitehorse's hockey spirit displayed so beautifully on TV.
When Abby was first born, and she and Rich were watching Hockey Day coverage on TV in the hospital, all smitten with each other, we made a deal: If I was going to be tasked with waking at all hours of the night to breastfeed a newborn baby, Rich would shoulder the responsibility of taking her to all her 6 a.m. hockey practices. Fair deal!

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