I salute ice hockey parents as the most dedicated and loving parents of all sports.
Ice hockey had the most grueling practice and game schedule when my son was young. At six a.m. on a Saturday
morning, the parents pulled into the rink parking lot. We stumbled like zombies to help the boys get their bags,
which were large enough to carry a baby elephant, onto their shoulder. They all walked in a line, crooked from the
weight of the bag.
The parents then gathered to chat and sip their coffee. This is the only sport where you see people at their worst.
I’ve seen hair look like it was set on fire, on a woman who usually looked like a beauty queen. Honestly, I prefer this
look to the other. I’ve seen grown men wipe sleepy winks out of their eyes like toddlers. I’ve seen mis-matched
pajama sets and fleece blankets covering those pajamas up in the stands. We were sworn to secrecy not to share
this information outside the rink, lest our secrets be revealed. I did not want that to happen!
Bonding happens naturally before the sun rises. Maybe we were all sleepwalking and thought we were dreaming. I
blame the Zamboni fumes, early hours and the smell of hockey equipment. It’s a horrid mixture and I swear it
intoxicated us into bonding.
The odor that comes from hockey equipment could be used in warfare. If they put a prisoner in a room for ten
minutes, with the gloves alone, they would confess in minute two. It is the most obnoxious odor. It smells like a
creature climbed into the glove and died. It’s really just sweat from our eight-year-old players. Every parent drove
from the rink with all of the windows down to avoid choking on the fumes of those gloves.
Another fun fact about ice hockey was you dare not wash the uniform or you’ll be responsible if they lose a game.
The dirty, stinky, foul odor is chocked full of good luck.
I honestly don’t know how the kids opened the bags with out being sick, but the stinkier it was, the more pucks
went into the net.
Dads gathered at the end of the rink, while the moms found a spot on the freezing, gray
metal bleachers. If you’re lucky, you might sit next to one who would share her blanket.
I couldn’t possibly find a blanket at that hour in my house.
We puffed smoke from our lips, in the thirty degree rink. We
huddled to stay warm and complained about the hour of these games. The
following week, we did it all again.
The times of the practices and games changed over the years. Parents still huddled in the stands. The Zamboni
fumes still lingered and the ever loving hockey bag was still be filled with disgusting odors.
The years went by so quickly. One day you find yourself passing a skating rink and watching young kids walking
crooked, carrying their bag inside the rink. The memories will flood back and you might wipe a tear. You can blame
it on the Zamboni fumes.
I always did.