I’ve kept relatively quiet for a few weeks so as not to jinx the Devil as she ran through the latest installment of tryouts – only this time for the Midget division, into which she and most of her most recent teammates entered as the youngest of three age levels. Boys in many centres are fortunate to have a minor-midget division; whereas for girls there are 14 and 15 year olds competing against 16, 17 and even potentially 18 year olds. Quite a challenge at a physical, if not, mental and social level. But the Devil and her young mates soldiered on starting at the highest AA auditions. Each tryout was comprised of three one or two hour sessions.
There were really no expectations to making an AA team based on the triple-age category and the fact the Devil has never played at a higher level than A (including in her most recent campaign under the tutelage of a fine rookie coach who shall remain somewhat nameless). Skate #1 was a wee bit grueling at two-hours and considering most of the skaters had been away to the rink for a couple of weeks. That doesn’t seem like a long time, but it doesn’t take long to have conditioning fall off; particularly when tryouts demand all-out effort and focus for an extended period of time. An added challenge at any first tryout is the sheer number of competitors. The Devil was one of 53 skaters on the ice at the first session. Pretty easy with that many players to not stand out or simply be overlooked. However, the Devil did enough to avoid an initial cut of about 20 players; which is necessary to make the selection process more manageable for the selection committee. She would give a full effort in the second skate, never backing down from a challenge in the corners or along the boards. Yet she wouldn’t avoid the axe of the evaluators and would renew her focus a little over a week later on at A team tryouts; a team she felt she had a much better chance to join, though we all knew it wouldn’t be easy.
The first skate for the next team saw the same intimidating number of competitors at around 45. The Devil knew she’d need to work her butt off again in order to stand out, impress and have an opportunity to skate a second time. She did just that in the first and then the second session putting her into the final round. By the third skate there were only four or five cuts left to make. The Devil knew she had her work cut out for her, but was hopeful as having been given the opportunity. I might add here that in a bit of an unusual circumstance, the coach of this Midget A team also happens to be a very good and long-time friend of our family. That being said, we expected no preferential treatment or consideration. The Devil would need to earn a spot as she did even a year ago when I was heading up the selection process. Though she never said it, what she did hope for was something of a heads up should hers be on the proverbial chopping block. And, as the process played out, she was indeed released following the final skate which did not, and for that matter still does not, sit well with her. She said if the skate were on the other foot, I would have handled this situation differently, to which I’d agree, but without going through it who knows. Having been through tryouts for nearly eight years now the technical reasons for her release are well understood, but there is, of course, no way to separate all that emotion from the equation. This too shall pass. One more tryout, one more life lesson for better or worse.
A week later (and just a few days ago) tryouts began for the third and final Midget BB team. After having gone through the physical and mental rigors of the first two rounds – the third (because this isn’t the first time we’ve been here) is always a little taxing. Making this third team would have a couple of challenges of its own. First off there were far fewer players on the ice to begin with – only around 24 for 17 spots. Secondly this team would be selected by a new coach in the association with whom the Devil has little familiarity and vice versa. A new coach could certainly be a wild card. On the positive side of the scale, many of the players trying out for this third team were the Devil’s teammates/friends from this past season who had likewise gone from AA to A to here. So the Devil was ushered to the rink with the same set of instructions from the previous two rounds – skate hard and there are no friends in tryouts. I’m pleased to report the Devil and five of her teammates, including her actual linemates, were all successful in this third attempt. There are, of course, some new allies to form and friends to be made. At the end of all of this, just like every other year, the Devil will get to play, learn, take away from and give back to the game we all love. For now, we’ll take a wee bit of a rest through the Summer then wait to see what else the next season will bring.