3 years ago, when my little prince was just over the ripe age of 3, we attempted to start him along the path of his hockey career. 3 attempts later, we finally succumbed to the knowledge that there IS a reason it is reccommended that a child be 5 yrs or older to start hockey. While we waited, we started little league baseball, which, looking back now, seems as though it was exactly what was needed for the encouragement to head out onto the ice again.
Well, 3 years later, today was day 1 of the next attempt to join Cross Ice at the local Ice Forum (home of the Atlanta Thrashers practice facility). We first went to public skate to make sure our little man could still stand on the ice with skates.. Luckily, not only could he skate, but he quickly learned the ice was a great practice location for working on the perfect slide for baseball. After a while, it was obvious that he wasn’t the only one practicing snow angels and reminiscing on the few months ago and being covered in ice.
After watching my son skate for two hours straight, determined to re-learn everything we had put up on a shelf just a few years ago, I held my breath as he skated over for their first huddle of the day after warming up. ‘This is where he couldn’t get past last time,” my husband reminded me. I sighed a slight sigh of relief when I watched them break and separate into their first of 4 ‘stations’ for the day.
Each child was asked to put his stick down in a line in which they would be skating up and stepping over each stick. I watched as my son carefully tripped and fell over each and every stick and got back up each time. He skated back to the end of the line and did it all over again. Next they had to skate up to the stick, bend down and touch it, then skate to the next. Again, my son fell down almost every time, but continued to pick himself back up over and over again.
When the whistle blew and the group moved to their next station. My son eagerly skated over to the next station, not once looking back for Mom or Dad. This continued over and over for a good 45 minutes. After the stations were done, the kids would be broken up into 3 different groups and participate in a scrimmage, one with a puck, one with a tennis ball and one with a soccer ball. For another 40 minutes or so, the kids took turns in each of the 3 scrimmages. As they were finishing up, the group my son was with were instructed to skate to the other side of the ice, touch the wall, skate back and do it again. As I watched my son skating down for his second touch, he fell. I thought for sure this was it. After all the skating, no resting, he had to be worn out and at the end of his rope. And I looked at him, laying there, and saw the most amazingly content smile on his face.
I learned a lot today, but I learned the most in that one moment.