It’s no secret that goalie equipment is very pricey. I remember an excerpt from one of my articles when I wrote “Being a Goalie Mom is knowing that you can’t buy new living room furniture because the cost of the pads is going to be the equivalent. Each year you settle for new throw pillows for your house content in the knowledge that your child is protected in net.” My husband always had a much more laid-back approach to my son’s equipment. He used to say, “A decorated helmet and colourful pads don’t make a good goalie.”
When he was playing house league it seemed to be a non-issue. The equipment was provided so there was no worry of running out and buying new stuff. When he was nine-years-old, he made the rep team and it was a very different atmosphere. I worried how he was going to fit into a team that was well established. They’d had one goalie the year before and he was good. We were new to the team and new to rep! In order to get him prepared we went out to “Play it Again Sports,” a used sports apparel store to buy him some gear. Sadly, it’s no longer here, it was a great way to buy gently used equipment at a decent price.
During one of the practices early on, some of the kids started to make comments to our son saying that he was the only one that wasn’t wearing team colours. They were all only nine-years-old and they didn’t realize the things they were saying were hurting his feelings. He came home very quiet and didn’t want to go to the next practice. I found him crying in his room one night and I asked him what was wrong. He told me that the boys had been making fun of his “used” equipment. The other goalies’ pads matched the team colours and his looked different. My heart was broken for him. My first reaction was to call all the parents and tell them what the kids had been saying. Thankfully, my husband talked me down and hid the phone from me. We talked at length and agreed that it was time to purchase some new pads. He loved being a goalie and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t change his mind. We were pretty sure that goalie equipment would come from our household budget for years to come. The issue for us was that it wasn’t a very big budget.
I decided to reach out to our good friend. He worked for a hockey apparel company and his wife and I had been great friends for years. The problem was that they lived three hours away and I wasn’t sure how we’d go about purchasing equipment from them. I knew if we could figure it out, it would be worth the savings. My husband called him to ask if we could order equipment through him. As the conversation went on, our friend asked him a ton of questions. He wanted to know what colour he wanted, how tall he was, etc. In the days that followed we waited for him to send us a price list so we could plan. We decided we’d get a few things at a time until we had him fully dressed.
About a week later there was a knock on the door and when I answered, it was the FEDEX guy with a huge box for us. I looked at the return label and realized it was the name of the apparel company our friend worked for. I immediately called my husband and son into the room and we let him open the box. Inside was a full set of goalie gear along all with the colours of his new team. I can’t remember a time since then when I’ve seen that kind of excitement in my son’s eyes. It was one of the most incredible signs of generosity I’d ever witnessed.
As my son grew bigger, every so often we’d get a knock on the door and box full of hockey gear would be sitting at our doorstep. Our friend will never know how much that helped us in those years. I don’t think he’ll ever realize the smile it put on my child’s face either. They say it takes a village to raise a child and I have to say it takes a village to support a child in their love of hockey. From the carpooling, to the grandparent’s generous hockey gifts at Christmas, to the sponsorships, and to our friend who offered my son one of the best surprises of his life. I will never forget him skating on the ice at nine-years-old with his new pads. There is nothing that could have wiped the smile off his face.
- Written by Allyson Tufts