In the south, we tend to be a little less intense, moving at a slower pace, our southern humility during sporting events and our kindness towards others, “bless their hearts” and watch your back 😀 I am caught in the middle somewhat between the fast-paced regularity of the northern cities versus the small town country ways of the south. My parents are from Buffalo, New York and I was born up there. We moved south when New York began with their financial issues and my father lost his job. He drove down the coast until he acquired work near Atlanta and eventually moved us there when I was 9-years-old. I have been in the south for 41 years and therefore, am “southern-fried”. My sons comment often that I have more of a country accent than many who were born here, including them. Live as the Romans, I suppose. I don’t notice it until they say something about “you sound too hick, too country, fixen is slang, etc., etc.”. At least the years of correcting their grammar has rubbed off and they pride themselves on proper English most of the time. As a writer, to have sons who are talented and creative with the English language, I could not be prouder. However, living in the south is much more than dialect differences and in which the speed of our conversation ensues. Over the past two months, I have learned there is much more of a difference for hockey players and parents from the south and it really has opened my eyes. This may be due partially to the lack of rinks, or more importantly, the lack of ice. In our area, we have four sheets of ice and this is in about 300 miles, give or take and to our south, west and north, different states. A proposed sporting facility has recently broken ground and includes two additional sheets of ice, but will not officially open until 2015, I think. However, having four sheets of ice does indeed present challenges to the teams who play, to the youth who love the game and want to develop and to the men who love the game and simply want to continue playing. Four years ago, I did an analysis of player population and based on my approximate numbers (Work-in-progress, “The Hockey Mom Diaries, A Goalie Mom’s Trail of Tears”), at that time, there were 18 high school teams with a minimum of 20 players per team, 14 beer league teams, a fireman’s league, two A teams, two AA teams and each facility had their house leagues adding up to approximately 3500 players. In that radius (some do drive two hours) this may not sound like much to our counterparts in the northern states, but when you are utilizing four sheets of ice, it is a daunting and I am sure, overwhelming task to schedule ice time. Add in just the thought of tournaments and you have a scheduling nightmare. In keeping with that, I can explain away some of the training that goes into our teams and the lack of availability of skating coaches, goalie coaches and general hockey development, as there is just no ice. So alternatives rear their heads and many turn and even began their hockey development by playing inline hockey. That was how it started for Jacob.
Jacob has friends from that time and we both share great memories of those tournaments and coaches. Waving to Coach Chris who started us on this road to travel and a shout-out to Michael who is at Culver playing hockey.
Back to the present…
Jacob made our local high school team after deciding not to try out for travel this year. This was due to several things including possibly just wanting a break to be a teenager, not sure what to do for what he really wanted in the future and knowing he would have to leave home to be noticed, if at all. Our travel team family had splintered, some going to AAA in Atlanta and Jacob was not interested in that, that north would be his answer. However, at 17-years-old, was it too late? I have to admit that I tried to encourage him to try for the next level of hockey, but he was unsure and stuck to his guns about taking some time. As I have indicated in previous posts, everything does happen for a reason. So, after making our high school team, parent meeting held, selection made for starting players, JV players, etc., we knew it would be a good season for Jacob and just hoped people would keep stats, would do it right and turn it in for Jacob’s record. You see, for goalies people really don’t do the stats here, at least not in our league. Last year, Jacob was in net against top high school team who thought they would mercy us and get to the football game within the first period. Well, we did lose, but took it to the end with “Mo” totally on his game, we lost 7 to 0. According to my stats and I err on the side of less (never pad numbers, it only hurts in the long run). I have done this for Jacob for years since no one really ever kept them and he uses it to improve his game. However, during this game and I kid you not, he faced 89 shots and we lost 7 to 0. These shots were hard, fast (not like what he faces now, kudos to the EK Mich boys!), and much more accurate than our team could do with our total shot count at 3 on them. I was stoked, both teams congratulated Jacob on the outstanding game. I showed Jacob the numbers, he smiled and nodded. That was it. A few days went by and I checked the stats on-line and his numbers were not posted. No one kept the goalie numbers. Welcome to the south. How could we reach out to any coach without statistics???? It is what it is…
So, the week of tryouts, a friend and team-mate (we shall call him Sherm) called and told him he needed to come and tryout for their team, that he would never get a look there playing for Wilson Central, but he could up in Michigan and with him, they could totally make state. This of course, made Jacob feel great, but he wasn’t sure. He had never lived anywhere else but our home just outside Nashville. Sure, we traveled, but together. He would have to move, live with Sherm and his family. He really didn’t say much until one day he looked at me and said “You know, this may be my last chance at a look, to play for a great team and see if I am good enough to play in the north. Maybe I should cast a line out there. I think I want to try it.”
What?????? No……., sheesh, could this really be happening? We have already started school here and he made the team here and he is my youngest of four sons and not ready for an empty nest. Then I sank into realization, all the time I encouraged him to reach for it, to strive for more, although tough, it could be done and now I am fussing about an empty nest? So, once I spoke with him seriously about this and we both looked at the pros and cons, he was serious about going, was ready for a change and give it a shot. Okay. It didn’t hit me until I made the plane reservation and I cried like a baby, then it was done.
He has been gone almost two months and my husband and I miss him greatly. However, he is living with a great family with the ethics and values we have, who are friends and are taking care of Mo like their own. I am grateful to have someone in his life and ours that I can allow my son to become theirs; albeit temporarily. As teammates and friends, I know they will be there for years to come. I found this picture from Nationals; Jacob made glove save and you’ll notice Sherm pushing a guy from Jacob.
Nationals 2013 vs. AZ Mission; glove save Sherm protecting Mo
Jacob is so busy, he has no time to be homesick. The high school has its own rink. He walks after school to the rink four days a week for drills for 1.5 hours (I think) and then dry-land after, running bleachers and my understanding is that the athletic trainer is an ex-Marine. Yep, he is in great shape. He has made fast friends with the team and has become very involved with the school sports. They fund raise, yes, the players, I am sure the parents are involved to some extent, but the players go door-to-door collecting recycling cans, they clean up the stadium after football games, they do the restaurant thing and get a percentage, serve customers and clean tables, they support breast cancer awareness and as a team they support other teams at their high school. Wow! A lot of our school classmates don’t even know we have a hockey team. We are lucky if there are fans at the game who are not parents. Years ago during off-ice training, football players told our hockey players “why don’t you play a real sport?” I would challenge anyone that hockey is one of the most demanding team sports out there. So, in the last week of training camp, week six or seven, Jacob says that his legs are the strongest they have ever been, his is running farther, faster and seeing the puck well. He is hopeful to make the team, confident that he will give everything to the tryout and beyond. He is loving the family of EK hockey and is excited to see snow, well, more than 2 inches (Grand Rapids area, LOL). He loves the fishing, outdoors, and true friends he has made and the brother he lives with now with his Michigan family.
I don’t know what the future holds for Jacob. Good things are happening as he steps into this next phase of his life. I am truly happy that he did indeed, cast out his line for bigger and better things.
May the Febreeze be with you!
Thanks for stopping by to read the life and times of this goalie mom!