Sitting at the rink, watching one of our (past) players, I feel a tremendous amount of pride over how successful this young man has become. Everyone warned us about him, and how difficult he would be. Typical “us” style, we ignored what they said and formed our own opinions. Our season with him was not without its challenges. He was a regular headache. But it’s amazing how much you can get out of a person (or player) if you demand just the right amount from them. If you find the perfect balance of tough love and compassion, of friendship and consequences. When the frustration was about to get the best of us, I urged Brandon to be patient. We were so close. And then it happened; all the work paid off and the kid realized we cared about him and that he could trust us. The little monkey who climbed the walls and coat hooks in the dressing room became a player we could rely on. The rest is history.
Years later, we are still among his biggest fans. Long after he’s forgotten us, we will still be cheering him on.
Christmas and New Years are emotional times. This year, it’s really starting to hit me that we will likely never have the family we’ve always wanted. And that realization has been a tough one. I’m not sure how I’m going to handle it, but for now, I just cry every single time no one is looking.
Heading to the rink, running into players and parents (the ones we like) reminded me that we had family in hockey. Kids who needed us, even if just for a few hours a week. I miss the opportunities when a kid looked up at me with a question, needed an opinion, wanted to tell me a story, or finally broke out of his shell. I miss getting to know them, figuring out how they tick to know how much pressure they need, what style of feedback, what type of praise. It’s funny though, because in the end that was what did us in – caring TOO much.
No matter how fleeting the moments were, regardless of whether they made a difference to the kids or not, those moments I spent coaching gave me an opportunity to impact something greater than myself. And that is what I truly miss. Whether those kids remember who I am in 10 years or not, I hope that someone learned something unique from me, even if they don’t realize it. It’s tough being in the shadow of a great head coach; sometimes people don’t take you as seriously, or even see you at all. It’s the head coach’s team after all, and you are just part of it. In my situation, I was very fortunate to be second in command to my husband, who trusted and relied on me way more than most head coaches do of their associates. I didn’t do it for the fame or glory (insert hysterical laughter). I did it because I had so much to give.
Maybe it’s not coaching that I miss.
Maybe it’s those tiny, fleeting moments, that were about so much more than me.