Thursday, November 17, 2016

Clearing a Hockey Helmet Hurdle

    I'm going to miss that white helmet. She's worn white since mites.This week my hockey girl is strapping on a navy blue one, as she begins playing for a Varsity High School Hockey team. I found out after a post on Facebook, I'm not the only one with a silly attachment to a helmet color. A number of parents chimed in when I shared my melancholy feelings. "Noah switched from a royal blue helmet he's been wearing since he started mites to a navy blue one," wrote one Facebook friend, "It took us about a month and a half to figure out who he was on the ice."

     When your kid is the same size and shape as ten others on the team, having a unique helmet can be a plus,  "My oldest always wore a red helmet. My parents and I loved it because we always knew which player was on the ice with a quick glance. When people would ask which one was my son, it's a simple reply, red helmet," wrote another parent.
 But it's more than the plus of the quick recognition factor, that's stirred my emotions and why I'm having such a tough time with the retirement of the white helmet.

         Sophia picking white over yellow, black, navy blue or red had a lot to do with a gifted 13 year old hockey player, who was the playmaker on her big brother's team. He always took the time to pat her on the head as they lined up to take the ice, ask her how her game was and did she score. He never treated her like the annoying little brother and sister who runs rampant around the arena with all the other rink rats, stuffing wayward pucks into their pockets.. She was Joey's little sister, and he always made her feel like an important part of the team. Their little mascot.
      This teen who won my little girl's admiration was fast and furious on the ice, with strength beyond his years. His reputation spread and rival teams always knew to try and shut down the kid in the white helmet.  Beyond his talent, he was a class act. Never vindictive, always providing inspiration to teammates with less talent, and helping them play up.

     I'll always remember when he got the puck to my boy, who hadn't yet scored in a game, and then celebrating like he was the one who made the goal.  A phenonmenal football player, there were times when I think he had a hard time switching off that defensive tackle mode as he went from cleats to blades. The game he inadvertantly flattened an opponent as he was flying across the ice, then stopped to help that player up, was the day my girl begged to wear a white helmet. How could I say no?

     She's worn one ever since. I can't help but think those early impressions of her hero in the white helmet, has a little something to do with the development of the passion, and drive that I see every time she steps out onto the ice, her desire to keep things calm when tempers flare and the respect she has for the letter "C" she wore on her jersey.

     She's stepping out onto the ice tonight for the first time in blue.  So while I may not be able to quickly recognize her by what she's wearing on her head,  I hope I will continue to tell her apart, by what she carries in her heart.    

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