We spent the better part of the day today watching him play hockey. This is his first year, called “initiation” (or “tykes”–but Big J is certainly no “tyke” anymore), so he’s spent the whole season learning. Learning to skate forwards and backwards. Learning to stop. Learning to “superman,” a move whereby they skate full throttle, drop to their bellies and slide, and then pop back up to their feet (J is especially adept at this). Dribbling and shooting, etc etc. They have not had any games, except their quick self-scrimmages for the last few minutes of practice twice a week.
But the season is ending soon, and so the initiation teams get together and have informal tournaments, playing unscored cross-ice (ie half-court) games against other local clubs.
Because of my teaching schedules for this and last semester, I’ve only been able to watch a few of J’s practices. In the beginning, J was a quick learn; his fearlessness and size (he’s a sturdy boy) made him a graceful, fast skater. But the last time I saw him at practice, he couldn’t stop. The coaches (gently) joked him, asking if he’d rather be figure skating since he would pirouette out of control every time he tried to stop.
When I sat in the freezing cold bleachers today and watched this boy play, however, it was like he was a different kid. He stopped almost magically, making the ice shoot up from his blades, his body controlled and agile. I know he’s my kid; I know that this makes me completely unable to judge objectively. But DAMN my kid is a good hockey player.
If you click through, there’s a couple more pics. J is #29.