When Hockey was Simple – “Lizzie’s Story”

I always knew I wanted my kids to be involved in sports.  Sports was something I was always passionate about so naturally I thought my kids would feel the same way. We have two kids, a daughter named Elizabeth (Lizzie) and a son named Brian. Brian was a natural athlete with a competitive spirit. He seemed to inherit the same passion I did for anything that had to do with sports. Lizzie wasn't as athletic but she was pretty close.  She was fast and caught on to things pretty quickly. As far as her passion for sports - that was a different story. Her focus was much more on hanging out with friends, good music, and a great outfit.

One year when we were registering Brian for hockey, I was really encouraging (pushing) Lizzie to play hockey. It’s safe to say it took some convincing. Finally, after a promise of highlights and a good outfit she agreed. We had her start in house league and she absolutely hated it. As the years passed, what became more important to her than anything was her friends. I have to say I used that to my advantage.  As she was going into grade eight, all of her friends were playing hockey. She wanted to ensure she stuck with same group and most of them were moving up so she decided to try out for the rep team. I remember thinking that there was a good chance she wasn’t going to make it and I had my “at least you tried” speech all ready to go. For some reason the coach picked her. I tried not to let on that I was surprised but admittedly, she was as surprised as I was.  As the season was getting started, her greatest concern was getting a good dressing room playlist together.  Whenever hockey season started for Brian, his greatest concern was getting into shape, working on his speed and making sure he was game ready. Lizzie’s greatest concern was getting the perfect playlist ready for the dressing room.  A hockey player she was not - but if she was in a contest for the greatest DJ, she would have won every time.  

I kept thinking to myself, "What are we doing, we are paying rep fees for two kids but only one of them is actually in it for the hockey."  I think the most telling moment was when I was on the team bus with Lizzie. As we drove along the highway, we passed Brian’s team bus going in a different direction to another arena. I missed a ton of his games to be with her and she never really loved it. My husband and I waved from bus to bus and headed in two different directions to support our hockey players (or dressing room DJ). Lizzie’s game ended up being particularly exciting.  It went into a shoot out - it went so long that after each player would take a shot, they'd move into the penalty box. The bench was getting emptier and emptier until finally the only two people left on the bench were Lizzie "DJ EXTRODINAIRE" and the other goalie.  My heart was in my stomach! I looked over to see if she was paying attention and getting ready for her turn.  Sadly, that wasn't the case. All I could see on the bench; all anyone could see on the bench was Lizzie pushing the goalie to go ahead of her for the shoot out.  I could see the goalie saying to her, "What are you doing!?" I swear in my mind I was sure Lizzie was saying, "I'm just here for the music!"  At that point I realized this might be the end of my daughter’s hockey career. I also realized that maybe she was in it for me more than her.  I had a twinge of regret and I was even a bit embarrassed that I'd put her in that position. 

As years have passed, we still laugh when talk about that crazy game and Lizzie pushing the backup goalie with all her might. She often says that year of hockey was some of the best times she had, not for the hockey but for the friends she made.  One of the girls on the team is now her roommate and some others are still her friends today.  I'm pretty sure when they get together, she still does the music. She was not meant to be a hockey player but she was certainly meant to be a teammate.  When I think of when hockey was simple, I think of my daughter teaching me that sometimes it's not necessarily about the sport. It's about the friends you make along the way and sometimes…it's about the music. 

I’d love to end by telling you that my daughter scored in the shootout but no such luck! I can tell you that after the game the music sounded pretty good in the dressing room.

-Written by Allyson Tufts