I’m a proud hockey mom!
As I stood in the rink yesterday morning, my son’s team playing to win…the smiles upon their faces as they skated through the tossed gloves and helmets…thrown in the air in celebration…circling the rink with the “Tournament of Champions Banner ” and gold around their neck…I was proud.
Week after week I bring him to the rink. Arriving an hour early, I sit with the other hockey moms chatting about whatever amuses us…drinking tea…wrapping ourselves in our rink blankets to stay warm.
I know when to encourage…and when to back away. I watch his ritual of taping his sticks before each game…wrapping them perfectly before rubbing them down with the side of the tape roll then coating them in a layer of wax…to “keep the snow off” I’m told.
I drop my head as he lands in the penalty box, snows the goalie or misses a pass and equally lift it high when he makes an amazing play, skates hard to get to the puck or pats the back of a teammate. I listen to him relive the game on the drive home…telling me details I missed like what happens on the bench, the chirping on the ice and comments from the refs. Other times, we drive in silence… and I wait until after he’s taken a few shots in the garage…while he removes his frustrations and puts himself back together again…before discussing the loss.
But never have I been prouder than last night, standing in front of Mark Star at the Lower Deck’s St. Paddy’s Day celebration…surrounded by the group of former Cole Harbour hockey players…listening to his story…about his Mom.
Like me, Irene Star loved to watch her son play. Mark’s Dad was head of the Cole Harbour Hockey Association through the “Sidney Crosby years” and his Mom was chair of the Joe Lamontagne March Break Tournament…a tournament my son has played in many times before.
Irene stood in the stands like all other hockey moms…wrapped in a blanket…and cheered Mark on. Volunteering her time before retiring from Chair in 1998…to make room for new Moms.
In 2006, at the age of 53, Irene was diagnosed with a brain tumor…and within seven months, she was gone.
Mark told me about his Mom…her love of the game, how she’d light up when she watched him play, how much it meant to him, how proud he was…evident from the sparkle in his eye.
To honor his Mom, Mark contacted the tournament organizers and this weekend, has flown in from Bermuda to place the “Irene Star Memorial Cup”…a replica of the Stanley Cup…in the hands of the winning PeeWee AAA team at “The Joe.
He’ll watch as the winning team hoists the cup over their heads…as they skate through helmets and gloves tossed aside in celebration. He’ll see the smiling parents in the stands and for one moment, he may actually know the pride that his Mom felt…so many times before.
To all the hockey Mom’s out there…to my friends Crazy and Carolyn whose sons are currently playing in the Pee Wee AAA division at “The Joe.” To Susan who chases four kids to several rinks, three in rep and one in “The Q.” To Little-One who sits in a rink in the middle of the desert in Dubai. To Ticker who missed her son’s very first goal… and his second. To Catherine whose daughter is a treat to watch whether she’s on the ice or cheering her brother with the PEI Rockets. To Kim who did it single handedly. To Red who’s often conflicted over which game to attend when both boys are on the ice. To Prada who encourages every player. To Marilla, Viv, Cathy and Christine who share my blanket every game. To all the parents out there who follow their children around… game after game… rink after rink… tournament after tournament… it’s worth it.
Because today, Mark Star will step onto the ice and present a trophy in honour of his mother.
Because Irene Star, was a proud hockey Mom.