This fall, I am finally going to admit defeat. I am officially a hockey mom.
Yes, it's true. I drive a minivan. I sometimes wear my Lululemon yoga pants to the grocery store. (Okay, maybe more than sometimes…). And, worst of all, I use that minivan and wear those yoga pants to the hockey arena at least four times a week.
I'm not sure how it happened. Growing up, I had a brother who played hockey and played it well. Always on the rep team in our town, he spent what felt like every waking minute playing hockey, practicing hockey or talking about hockey. Which meant I spent much of my free time in a hockey arena, watching hockey and listening to people talk about hockey.
I watched as my parents spent gobs of money on tournaments, equipment, power skating camps, team jackets, plaques, pictures and more. I watched as my brother got slammed into the boards a million times, broke his arm and eventually damaged his shoulder to the point he needed reconstructive surgery. I swore to myself I would never set foot into a hockey arena again.
Famous last words. My husband's best friend bought my oldest son his first hockey jersey when he was born. My dad bought him his first skates when he was two. Same with my second son. I tried to avoid it. I didn't encourage it at all. But the day came when the boys both begged, "We want to play hockey! Please can we play hockey?!"
Last year, I gave in and enrolled both boys in house league hockey. At ages four and six, they weren't exactly in the competitive hockey league, and that was fine by me. Neither boy could really skate (like I said, I wasn't encouraging it), but boy, did they learn quickly. And did they ever love it.
To my surprise, they weren't the only ones. I found myself getting into their little hockey games, cheering them on. I loved watching the joy on their faces as they figured out how to glide on the ice, or try and get a goal. I had tears in my eyes when my oldest son's team won the house league championships, and openly cried a little when they called his name on the loudspeaker to get his medal.
I loved the amount of exercise they were getting. I loved that they were learning how to work with a team. I even learned how to put on hockey equipment like a pro. Even I had to admit, I was hooked.
I know only too well how hockey can get out of hand. I'm certainly not encouraging either of my kids to play competitive rep hockey, where the only thing more competitive and combative than the kids are their parents. I don't want to spend thousands of dollars a year on fees, equipment and tournaments only to discover that there's no way my kid is going to play in the NHL. But playing house league hockey? That's a different thing altogether.
I want my kids to be active, healthy children, and hockey is a great way of doing that. And if they decide they don't want to play anymore? That's okay too. There are plenty of other great activities they can do that will keep them in shape. (Check out our article, "Fabulous fall sports," this week on Primacy Life to learn more about a bunch of great kids' sports.)
For now, though, it seems as though hockey is going to stick around in our house for a while. I couldn't be happier. I'm a hockey mom – and proud of it!
A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.