The boys lined up on the ice. A carpet was laid out between the two teams. Several old men in blue jackets and berets walked out to stand with the coaches. Veterans. Medals on their chests.
An announcement was made about the winners. The winners cheered. They were the better team. They deserved their moment. Then our time came and our coach took the mic. He looked over at his team. They had their heads up but their shoulders were slumped, like all the air had gone out of them.
He told them they hadn’t lost the tournament. He told them that they had won second place. Won. Second. Place.
He told them that they had beaten 4 other teams. That they’d played well.
He gave a great speech, but then he’s a pastor in his church and, I would think, not unused to giving people inspiration when they’re down.
Then the boys got their trophies. Pretty damn nice ones, too. The organizers did good.
After each trophy was handed out, the boys would shake hands with the vets. “They had soft hands,” The-Youngest said. He wanted to know what wars they’d fought in, but I couldn’t answer that. “They each had two medals, he said, so that must mean they’ve fought in two wars.”
He could be right.
By the time everyone got their trophy, we had to really make time to catch the ferry. It was 5pm. The ferry left at 5:45. I had a reservation, but not all our team did and it would be a small New Years’ miracle if we all made it. The drive was 20-25 minutes. And we had to still get our gear off.
It was decided that the only thing they’d get off was their skates. Well, sure, fair and fine for players, but to get goalie skates off means you have to untie the pads as well. But we were up to the task, and while most of the team left ahead of us, we were not far behind.
We stuffed our gear in the car. We stuffed the gear of two other boys in the car. We stuffed, 3 kids and 2 adults in. Somehow. And sped off. Now is usually the time I get epically lost, but with the aid of my iphone, I weaved my way in and out of traffic like a Nascar pro.
We made it into the line-up at 5:25. The ferry was 93% full. The attendant gave people without a reservation about 50/50 if they’d get on.
While we waited in the lot, the boys changed their gear. At first, they wanted to change outside of the car. OUTSIDE OF THE CAR. Like, in the open! Like with people in cars on either side looking at them!!!
The answer to that was, ah, no. No way. So they took turns inside the Rav 4 getting out of their sweaty, wet gear and into civilian clothes.
In the end, we all got on and assembled at the front of the ferry. The boys’ good humor had returned, and they were all so excited that they’d done so well. Mad props to the coach for finding exactly the right thing to say to them when the game ended.
The coach gave another speech about behaving, but this went largely unheard as the boys roared off to cause problems. Not The-Youngest though. He was given 20 min then a few quarters to play some video games, then kept by my side (mostly playing games on my phone.)
Most of the parents did the same thing and those who didn’t quickly gathered up their sons after supper. However, as goofy as the kids may have been, the epic award for being a complete asshat goes to a couple who occupied 6 seats in the cafeteria.
The ferry was 95% full when it left. There was a massive wait for food and for tables.
The staff even gave an announcement that anyone who’s finished eating, if they could please bugger off so that others could sit down.
Not those two entitled pricks though. They saved 4 seats for their snowboards. So, I took their picture. To quote Red Foreman, my fathering mentor, ‘Dumbasses!!!”
How many people had they inconvenienced so they could store their coats and snowboards? How fair was that to our team that could have used those seats to eat?
He said he’d never do that, and I believed him.
All things considered, he’d been great on this trip. Not perfect, sure, but he’s 9 and he was with his hockey buddies, so he needed to have a good time as well.
We got home in time for him to tell everyone about the games they’d won, the saves he’d made, the MVP medal he’d won and the trophy the team got for ‘winning second place’.
I declared the weekend a success and went to bed and slept for 20 hours.