For several years we lived in the Yukon bush, in an area between Carcross and Whitehorse, near what is now the Hamlet of Mount Lorne.
That’s where M played hockey on the outdoor rink. Yes, outdoor hockey in the Yukon. Of course!
But it was cold, I’m not going to kid you. Someone always had to get their early to light a fire in the big old wood stove beside the benches at the hockey rink on game days. The kids used to take their skates off between shifts on the ice and hold their frozen feet up in front of the fire. Parents were recruited to lace & unlace, whipping those skates on and off to speed things up. Sometimes we’d hold up spare socks in front of the fire so when the kids got off the ice we could warm those toes, bright red from the cold up even faster for a quick turn-around. When it was really cold (-25 or so) they could only stay on the ice for about 10 minutes at a time before their feet would start to sting.
The year we moved in, the community association built a proper community hall, complete with kitchen and bathrooms. The year after that, an enclosed warming shack beside the rink, with a second wood stove inside. What luxury! The warm-up shack had two rooms: one for our team and one for visitors. The wood stove was on the home team’s side, but we’d leave the connecting door open for heat during particularly cold weather. During my hockey-mom years, I volunteered many hours in the concession stand, selling hot dogs and hot chocolate, bags of chips and hundreds of cups of coffee. I drove many miles taking my turn in the carpool, cracking the windows against the overwhelming odour of boys and unwashed hockey gear. Eau de Hockey Bag. Those were the days.
Hockey has its downside, though. Your parents must be moderately wealthy in order to hold your head up amongst your peers. Pity the 12-year old boy who has to shop for his gear at the second-hand sports store and depend on hand-me-downs from wealthy friends.
Thank goodness, most of the families on our team shopped at Canadian Tire – as we did, for the most part. However, there was always one boy who was being fitted for the top-of-the-line brand at Hougen’s Sport Store while another was making do with duct tape and extra socks.
We were not wealthy. We made do. M wore more than his share of second hand gear.
One time, the boys went on a road trip to play a tournament in BC. M was wearing an old pair of oft-mended skates. Wouldn’t you know it; they had to break on the road trip. Rather than poor M having to sit out the tournament, the team’s two coaches took him to town and bought him a new pair. These were not the Canadian Tire, mid-priced ones we would have been able to afford. Oh no – these were Top of the Line skates. Best-skates-money-could-buy skates. Every boy’s dream skates. M was over the moon with pride and joy. When he innocently presented me with the receipt for reimbursement, I burst into tears. There was no way I could pay it. I was angry, hurt and mortified beyond belief. Did the coaches think that we sent our son out in cheap skates because we were… cheapskates?
They were kind men. Good fathers. Great coaches. They just didn’t think –they probably had a limited selection to choose from and very little time to shop. Really, they probably just bought the first pair that fit, in a rush with a bus-load of boys waiting in the parking lot. They were heroes, really. M’s heroes.
They were kind to buy M skates and not make him sit out the game. They were kind to create a scholarship fund (which hadn’t existed before this trip) to help us out. Because what can you say when the mom is standing in the parking lot crying over a bill she can’t pay?
The very next year, the new scholarship fund bought skates for another little boy whose family couldn’t afford them. We haven’t lived in the Mount Lorne area in decades, but I know that that hastily created scholarship fund has probably helped a lot of families out when they needed it.
And now for the A-Z challenge:
Marichi’s Pose (marichiasana)
Marichi, literally meaning a ray of moon- or sunlight is a wonderful stretch. I always feel good after doing this one. Hockey players like it, too. ♥