My cousin had been reading some of my articles and she told me she had a story that has stayed with her long after her daughter hung up her skates. I’m going to tell you a version of her story. This is in honour of the young player that she said taught her what being a “team player” really meant. I wanted to share this because this is the time in the season that we tend to make a lot of assumptions about everyone’s abilities. I can tell you after many hockey seasons that players will surprise you. Sometimes the players you think are the stars at the beginning of the season can change right before your eyes. Don’t ever assume you understand the level of a child’s abilities based on the beginning of the season because it’s not even half over yet. Players will often surprise you when you least expect it. Every player has a role to play.
This is the story of Jess....
Jessie wasn’t much of a hockey player but was always the first one to arrive in the lobby of the rink after a game. She would routinely ask anyone within earshot “How’d I look out there?” God Bless Jess, she had a loving home but her Mom was always very open about the fact that she had some behavioural issues that she wanted the coaches to be aware of.
On the ice Jess couldn’t have been happier. She also had the least amount of hockey sense of all of her teammates. Poor Jessie could not master the “offside rule” and would spend a great amount of time standing in front of the opposing goalie. It literally drove the parents insane!
I don’t recall if the team lost a game that year. I can say with confidence that if they lost a game, it was the only one they lost over that long winter. Their success in that year brought them to the championships. On the day of the final game the atmosphere came with all the bells and whistles. There were parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends in the stands cheering. They were all fairly confident that these talented girls would have no trouble beating the 2nd place team.
Oh, but the hockey Gods had a plan and it wasn’t looking good for our team. Yes, it was one of those games. Our girls couldn’t score because the opposing goalie was standing on her head. Going into the third period the score was 0 – 0. Our ladies looked a little shell shocked and very nervous, when, deep into the 3rd period, it was a scoreless tie.
This was the day, the glorious day when Jessie finally managed to stay onside as her teammate carried the puck over the blue line. I’m confident it was a fluke and no one was more shocked than her teammates. Jessie followed her teammate into the zone and parked herself in front of the net, waiting so impatiently for that elusive pass. We all wanted her to get the pass but we knew and understood why her teammate hesitated but finally she trusted in Jess and passed her the puck. Jessie put that puck in the five-hole effortlessly. She acted as if she’d been doing it all season. It was beautiful, it was astonishing and it was absolutely perfect! It was Jessie’s only goal of the year. But what an important goal it was. The only goal of the game, the Championship Goal!
As my cousin told this story with a smile on her face and a tear in her eye, she said it was a moment she’d never forget; an incredible memory of this little girl who loved hockey who became a hero. She said that the best part was her teammates couldn’t have been happier for her.
I don’t know where this little girl played after this story. I don’t know if she ever got better but I do know that everyone has their moment. Don’t put a label on these players, don’t miss their progression. You might be surprised at what they show you by the end of the season. Every player has a role to play.
- Written by Allyson Tufts
This article is the property of Allyson Tufts and is not to be used without her permission.