I sit in a chilly viewing room, among other parents, in an uncomfortable chair. Younger siblings climb on benches, amused by crayola markers and notebooks. Meanwhile, two teams of 8-year-olds practice their skills on the ice. Yesterday they were pitted against each other - enemies on the ice. Today they are friends, laughing as they master the art of a perfect pass and increase their speed and precision skating backwards.
The joy of the game still exists for these young kids, while five volunteer coaches work with them, encourage them, help them grow, tie laces that have come undone. Smiles are on each of their faces.
In these moments I clearly understand the passion so many people have for this game. Hockey seems to flow through the veins of our nation. In it's unspoiled form, it is such a wonderful game.
This moment helps me remember that most hockey parents are not like the dad I overheard last week, at another rink. "You'll never be the next Wayne Gretzky at this rate," he chastised his young son while they stood at the concession stand. His son had just finished a game; his team had lost. Undoubtedly, the young child was already feeling low, and this parent chose this moment to show the world what an unkind person he is, and just how easy it is to take the joy from the game.