[twitter]I played minor hockey for almost 10 years. I made it to a rep team for 2 of those years, playing goalie for the B level team that would travel all across the Lower Mainland, go to tournaments, and compete at a higher level than the house league teams.
I can never remember my parents complaining about the cost, the time, or the energy they put forth for me to play. I do remember them telling me hockey was expensive, and there were a few years where I had to stop doing some activities to allow the hockey to continue.
I remember putting on my hockey equipment in the back of our van as we drove to early morning practices. 6 am practices. Not getting up at 6am, practices that started at 6.
This weekend, I got my first taste of earning my parenting stripes; a soccer game starting at 7:45 the day after Halloween. I don’t think the two compare, but when my activity experience has so far been shuttling the boys to evening swimming lessons and casual weekend afternoon soccer games, it was the first peek at what my parents did to let me play hockey.
To be honest, I was excited. Zacharie stayed up way past his bedtime, wired on spooky costumes, door bells, and Reese’s Pieces. It was nearly 9 before he knocked off, yet when I went to shake his shoulder at 6:30 the next morning, he bounced downstairs for a bagel.
We were first to the complex for the soccer game. I remember my playing days and the coach always wanted us there 30 minutes before the game. Sure, we had to suit up in hockey gear and get skates tied, but having time to talk before a game is important. We were 45 minutes early.
So there we were, in an empty soccer complex some time just after 7a with Zacharie running around the feeling and screaming to the ceiling to hear his voice echo back. And I smiled. My sons aren’t skaters, they don’t want to play hockey. I won’t have to put up with rink visits 3-4 times a week and expensive equipment he grows out of too quickly.
We’ve wanted the boys to play soccer for a while, but finding teams and clubs has been difficult. So many are posh, snobby, arrogant organizations bent on an Academy structure with people who wear their club colours around town like they’re in the EPL. That’s not the kind of group I want to be in.
Finally, we found a team from Tri-West Soccer that was in the middle. He’s learning skills, while having fun, with no Academy pressures. His soccer team has one practice and one game a week. It’s enough for him, and it’s enough for me to feel like a ‘real’ parent. I’m an assistant coach on the sidelines, I’m up early to go to games, and I beam.