Last night I had the privilege of watching my nephew play his first college game at my Alma Mata. I was so proud he decided to follow my footsteps! Chase has played hockey since he could first tie his skates. We grew up a hockey family. Now when I say we...I mean we! Before I was married I lived at home in a big Walton's style house. I lived there with my sister, her husband their two kids and my mother. We are all very close. Now I live less than a mile away. I had the privilege of helping my niece and nephew navigate life. They went to the private school I taught at so I drove them to school for many...MANY years! I loved being a part of family life! As a close family we tend to travel in a pack. When we found out he had his first college career hockey game we loaded into the mini van and made our way south. My husband had to work but other than that we were all there. Even my little girl was strapped in the way back excited to see her Chase play. With Friday traffic coming out of Boston we still made it in time! There was such excitement in the air! We were all giddy. You see it was a long road to get Chase here. He played for a local prep school for high school hockey. The school itself was a solid education but it was one of those schools where money talks! Sadly the hockey team was full of politics and it was each man for his own glory. A very sad way to lead young men into adult lives. It was so bad his junior year he was not sure he would play his senior year. However they hired a new coach and he really loved to play. So he laced up his skates and decided to play for the love of the game. The new coach saw leadership in him and his skill. Not that he is the greatest on the ice or the fastest but he was correctable and a team player. He was willing to do what he was told. He encouraged the younger players. This was noticed in him so much that he won the MVP award for the season. We thought this was a good way to close his rough high school chapter. Fast forward to last night. He is wearing the school colors on the ice warming up. Even if he never saw ice time I knew this team was different. They way the team members were warming up and passing the puck around. It was not each player crashing the net. It was passing and moving and working as a team. Like a well rehearsed dance. He saw us come in and as much as he tried to hide his excitement I know his body language enough to see that he set his shoulders a little straighter and played a little harder. As a freshman he still looked so small compared to some of the seniors but he held his own! The puck gets dropped and the game is on! The whole family is cheering and enjoying being there. Walking back and forth to get hot chocolate and a few hot dogs the time was ticking down. He did see ice time and when he was on the ice we were all so proud!!! His team quickly took the lead and held it for the entire game. As lines kept changing he saw a lot of ice time. He took some hits up against the boards. He gave a few hits! He was on the bench when a fight broke out. Two guys just got caught up and it turned messy. Benches were cleared! Chase jumped in to help pull people of his team member. The refs gained control very quickly and the other teams player was ejected from the game. It was an exciting game! Enter the 3rd period and Chase was on the ice. There was a clean breakaway from one of his teammates. I could see Chase hauling skates to get down to the net. His teammate took a shot but it missed. The goalie was flat on the ice and Chase came in and got the rebound and was able to slip it past the goalie and scored! We were ecstatic! OVER THE MOON! What a scene we made. But you know what was even better? The scene on the ice. His team members who were on the ice all came skating and did this mosh pit group hug thing with Chase in the center! His team was ahead by 3 so the goal was not urgent but the way his team celebrated you would have thought it was the winning goal of the Olympics! I could see his sweaty face through his helmet and the smile said it all. He finally found a TEAM! A team that would win together and loose together. A team that would celebrate together. For all the garbage he went through...for all the early morning practices...for all the time traveling all over kingdom come....for all the cold toes and soar muscles....this goal made that all seem to disappear. He found a team. His team. Well done boy! Your family is very proud!
A long hard journey but worth every inch!