As we wrap up our series called "Never Underestimate the Power of Hockey," I'm excited to be ending with a subject close to my heart...HOCKEY DADS! If I had to pinpoint what made me fall in love with hockey I would credit my father for that one. Some of my favourite memories of hockey were spent watching him skate on our backyard rink.
As the youngest daughter in a family of nine, I had older parents. I'm ashamed to say it always bothered me in grade school that my dad was the only one with grey hair when the other dads looked so much younger than him. Don't get me wrong, he was always well-dressed, hair combed perfectly because he carried a comb in his back pocket and he smelled of Old Spice. To this day the smell of that cologne brings a smile to my face every time I'm blessed to get a little sniff of it.
He was raised in the country and never played any organized sports but he was a great athlete. I remember one day when my sister brought her boyfriend home to meet my parents. He was flying around our backyard rink trying to impress her by showing her how fast he could skate. My dad wasn't long joining him for a game of shinny. My sister's boyfriend foolishly decided he'd give my dad a friendly shove. After which, my father simply skated away from him but as the game went on I watched as dad waited for just the right moment. I could see his eyes sparkling as he picked up speed and his skates began making that familiar slicing sound on the ice. When he reached my sister's boyfriend, with a twinkle in his eyes, he gave him a little shove that sent him flying into the snow bank. Suddenly my father who always looked older to me now looked like a mischievous teenager. His cheeks were all rosy and he had an expression of complete victory on his face. I guess for me that's where the love affair with hockey started. I loved how hockey brought out the kid in my dad.
There is an excerpt from my book that I dedicated to him, so in honour of Father's Day, this one's for you dad...
"As soon as the weather got cold enough, my father would spend hours flooding our backyard rink to make sure it was perfect for all of us. I remember standing on my bed watching from behind the frosted glass of my bedroom window as he flooded the ice late at night. It's vision forever etched in my mind. I remember what the water sounded like hitting the ice. I could barely make out my dad's features, but I knew he was relaxed, perhaps envisioning that one of his boys would make it to the National Hockey League (NHL) with all they'd learn on this rink he built. I watched him in his big work coat trying to keep warm as the smoke of his breath filled the air. At the time, he worked long hours driving trucks for an oil company but he always found time to flood the ice regardless of how many hours he'd been on the road.
I loved looking out the window on those cold nights. I'd spend most of my time wiping breath from the window trying to get a glimpse of my dad. On really cold nights, all I could see was his shadow, but I loved the view just the same. Watching him flood our rink late at night was a vision of a man completely satisfied in his life. He loved his wife, his children, his quiet time flooding that rink and he loved hockey; he was a rich man in my mind."
I bet there are so many incredible stories of hockey dads and their influence on their young players. I can think of many stories of my husband and son filled with moments that I know they won't forget. With each new generation we get the new gift of stories, fathers get the chance to show their children what they learned from their own dads, and the tradition continues. There is nothing more special to me than when I see my son skate on to the ice with that familiar twinkle in his eye and the same expression I saw many years ago from my dad. For those brief moments it's like they are skating together, for those brief moments hockey brings me back to being a kid, watching my father on our backyard rink.
So for a month that's dedicated to our dads, please take the time to tell them about the memories they've given you and most importantly take the time to thank them. I'd give anything to be able to wish my dad a Happy Father's Day but I'll have to send those thoughts up to heaven. So for me this is my card to him and to all of you . . . "Don't Ever Underestimate the Power of a Hockey Dad!"
- Written by Allyson Tufts
About the author:
Allyson Tufts is a new author that has had many meaningful careers to date in non-profit, social work, and human resources. Her proudest accomplishment is that of being a wife and mother. She spent many years watching her son and daughter enjoy their extra curricular activities. Nothing could prepare her for the stress of standing behind her son's net for his debut as a goalie. As her experiences as a Hockey Mom started to pile up, she realized that not only were they funny, most importantly, they could be helpful to other parents going through their own experiences watching their kids play. She decided to take the leap and put her stories into her first book and so was born, “Lessons from Behind the Glass”.
Since the launch of the book in 2015, she’s sold thousands of copies in both Canada and the United States. She’s had the opportunity to speak to the senior staff and President of Hockey Canada. Most recently she has partnered with BC Hockey and Hockey Eastern Ontario to create a video series for parents based on the lessons from her book.
This article is the property of Allyson Tufts and is not to be used without her permission. To learn more about Allyson Tufts or to purchase the book, please visit www.lessonsfrombehindtheglass.com.
*photograph source: Macleans.ca