Lately I’ve been seeing numerous posts called “my goodbye to hockey”. These posts are all written by players of the game or parents who were involved because their children were playing. Well, I figured I would try writing my side of the story, as the daughter of a hockey coach. Although, this is not a goodbye to hockey because whether I still know the people who or playing the game or not, hockey will always be a part of my life.
Since I was born, I’ve been surrounded by hockey. My brother is 11 years older than me and was already into his hockey career when I was born. My father has loved hockey since he was a child, playing when he was young and then into his high school years. He had two children young and had to stop playing, but that did not take him away from the game. He grew up with 4 older brothers who all played hockey, too. So when he was young he got to share the love of the game not only with his teams, but with his own family as well. Now that he had a son himself, he chose to share that love with him as well. My brother started to skate, and then as most young hockey players do, he also found the love of the game. My dad decided that he was going to become a coach, and he coached every team my brother has played on. Around the time my brother was going to be starting high school, my dad applied to be an assistant hockey coach of the team. He got the job and began to coach with someone who became a great leader to him. Even though my brother did not make the high school team his first two years, my dad still encouraged him to keep playing and keep trying out. Eventually he made it his junior year, and his senior year the team won the state championships. Even after my brother graduated and went onto college, my dad could not leave coaching because he now found a love for this side of the game. He eventually became the head coach in 2006 and is still today.
My dad and brother both have continued to play hockey over the years, whether in different rentals or random pick up games. A couple years ago, my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, which started to make it difficult for him to skate the way that he used to. Even though this was the case, he never lost a love for hockey. Rather, hockey became his escape. When he could focus on hockey, he didn’t even think about anything else that was bothering him. I’ve honestly never met a person who loves hockey more than he does, and I know whenever he has to it’s going to be a heck of a hard time to get him to walk away from the game.
Now, this technically wasn’t supposed to be such a long story about my family’s hockey timeline, and I could actually go on and on talking about all the family members I have who played hockey or are actually still playing hockey, but I digress… I can’t begin to count how many hockey games I’ve seen over my lifetime, how many busses I’ve travelled on, how many teams I’ve felt I became a part of, how many tears I’ve cried because of a loss, and how many screams I’ve cried because of a win. Hockey is not only an escape for the players, but also for the spectators. I’ve been in so many different hockey rinks over the years; I’ve travelled many places to support the teams that I love. Heck, I even got a concussion once from watching a game! (I took a hockey puck to the head, not one of my favorite moments!) The sport of hockey has brought my life to a stand still so many times, and pushed my problems aside, and it’s brought me closer to my father than anything else really could. We’ve bonded so many times whether it was him looking into the stands after a win and seeing me waving like crazy, or the two of us sitting on the couch cheering on the Chicago Blackhawks. My father and I could talk about hockey for hours, and we could watch games over and over again even if we already knew the outcome.
Even though I’m already 4 years out of high school and no longer know any of the players on the team, as long as my dad is coaching, the Hancock Bulldogs will always be my favorite team. I will still scream at their games, and still feel heartbroken after a loss, because my father has taught me to love the game of hockey as well. Hockey is not just for the players, even though they share a different side of hockey that I will never know, I will never lose my love of the game either, just like the players.
So this is not a goodbye to hockey. Whether I have family playing or not, whether I am still in school or not, and whether my dad is still the coach or not, hockey will always be a part of my life. I know that the love of the game, and the bond my father and I share because of hockey will never ever leave my life.
the daughter of a hockey coach