Monday, April 15, 2013

Where Victory Hides

At some point we all have to come back down to earth. For our son E, and I imagine the rest of the boys on his hockey team, it will be a slow return. It’s not been a banner season, not in terms of wins anyway, it has however been a season of great victory and this past weekend in Niagara on the Lake proved just how much this group of boys has won.

We are at the end of our regular league season. Our record is 2 wins, 2 ties and a stack of loses. Those are the stats and even though I am only a 2nd year rookie hockey mom and far from educated about the game, I understand those stats aren’t pretty.

Heading to the March Break tournament we were promised three games and that, in all honesty, is all any of us (parents anyway) expected. By the time we hit game four; the semi-final game, the pangs of parental guilt for believing secretly and not so secretly that we would never had made it so far were visible on almost every face. In our defense our team came out of nowhere, playing solid hockey like we hadn’t seen all season; skating, digging, passing, back checking, defending the net and taking away scoring chances (these are all terms I have memorized and will someday understand) Where did this team come from?

They came from playing get-to-know you street hockey and mini-sticks, eating hamburgers and playing video games. They came from a great afternoon of pond hockey against their Coaches and their Dads. This team came from hanging out in the pool and old school road hockey in the hotel parking lot. They came from hours hanging out at the Hockey Loft, competing against one another in targets and time trials and goofing off during the free skate of on-ice practice. You could see they emerged from joining together to change a family’s Christmas and from eating pancakes and bacon after a morning of big show hockey at Ranger’s Nation. They came from great Coaches who were as much a part of the team as the leaders of it.  Those boys who went into the final game came from cheering loud and proud for their hometown Kitchener Rangers and dancing Gangnom style in the dressing room. They brought it all to the ice and you could feel it, their energy, their ‘Team’. They brought it all to the win! They won, and I would be remise if I didn't exclaim it was exhilarating, thrilling and emotional, even more so because of where the win came from.

I’m not going to lie; watching games throughout the season has been painful at times. I cheer and smile and silently think to myself ‘come on guys – when are you going to get it together’ and I am feeling rather small at the moment for failing to see that they were getting it together the whole time, that it simply wasn’t recognizable until it looked like winning.

That may be one of the saddest things about becoming an adult I think; in the land of grown-ups and grown-up jobs the focus is all on the result, on the win, it’s how we measure success. Sure we strive to recognize the efforts along the way but we fail to celebrate them as the other victory.

Play-offs are coming up for our boys, they are going in on a high note riding the wave of victory not only as champions of a recent tournament (which was sweet) but riding a season of auxiliary successes. Whatever the result at the end of the day – every one of those boys has won far more than a championship.

…and isn’t that the point?

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