“The new schedule is here, the new schedule is here!” I exclaim to myself in my best Steve Martin as The Jerk voice as I see the Devil’s September ice allotment hit my email inbox. This has, without a doubt, been the longest period between rink visits I’ve had since the Boy was knee high to a grasshopper (or roughly 13 years for those keeping score at home). We did actually venture into a familiar icy temple the weekend before last as the Devil’s team had their traditional Summer get together. One big difference between this year and last is I can mostly just watch with my head coaching duties a season behind me – queue a deep breath of semi-relief. Gazing down at a game of shinny with her new teammates, I wondered, as I always do after a layoff, whether or not she would even remember how to skate. But she, as she always has, quickly dispelled my misguided fears. In fact, she may have even picked up a step or two and displayed a couple of fine dangles to foil the goalie, which should understandably come with ever-growing muscles and maturity. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember or simply acknowledge the kids are growing; though that obvious reality smacks me in the head at every turn.
Then I actually look at the schedule (just the Devil’s schedule with the Boy’s to follow) and reality strikes again with the acknowledgment of eight practice times (most of which are at 8:30pm or later) and a relatively local tourney to get the puck sliding in September. October, November and December will be busier yet. But no complaints as with maturity comes the understanding that my kids’ minor hockey careers are fleeting. This will, in fact, be the Boy’s swan song so I’ll be sure to savour games, shifts, hits and goals with added attention. I wonder how many dads and moms around me will be feeling the same when the buzzer goes to signal the end of the final game. Lots of time and many trips to the arena yet before we have to worry about that. Bring on the hockey seasons.