Since my youngest daughter began playing hockey last September, I couldn’t be more proud of the way that she has developed on the ice along with how great of a teammate that she has become for the rest of the players on her team.
This last weekend, we traveled three hours away for her last tournament of the year. It has been a challenging year for her team, as they have only won 3 games, but they have worked hard throughout and there has been great growth shown through the year.
The first game was one of the best that her team had played all season and it was a tremendous effort as they out-shot a team that had only lost one game on the year, but her team lost the game 5-1. Coming into the next game our spirits were pretty high, hoping that they could replicate their effort from early the morning. I was able to be on the bench for the game, since one of our coaches was not available for the early stages of the game, so I was able to try and reinforce the messages that the coaches were passing onto the players.
Soon after the opening whistle it was pretty clear that we just didn’t have the same intensity that we had in the morning and fell behind. After that, the other team began taunting some of the girls on our team, telling them that “Girls didn’t belong on the ice” and that “Girls shouldn’t be playing hockey.”
One thing that I didn’t mention is that there are 7 girls on our team (including my daughter, along with daughters of each of the coaches) and while each of them tried to let the comments bounce off of them, it eventually got the best of them and they struggled with their emotions and their focus late in the game.
After the game was over, we did the best we could to help raise their spirits and let them know that we were all proud of them and that they deserved to be on the ice as much as any of the players of any team. Just before we left the rink, we looked at the bracket for the tournament and saw that there was a match-up remaining that evening that would decide who would play the team that just taunted and beat my daughter’s team. If things went right, an all-girls team would be playing them the next morning.
After a good nights rest, the kids all came back to the rink and we saw that the all-girls team would be taking on the team that beat us the night before. While we had our own game to pay attention to, we couldn’t help but to think about the game that was coming up after ours. I went and spoke to one of the coaches for the other team and let them know what the boys on the ice were saying to our girls the night before. He said, “Hmm.. I think we can do something with that.”
So, after our game was over, we went to the bleachers and sat next to the families and friends for the girls team and let them know we would be cheering for them during their game. For the whole game, our team (girls and boys) screamed and cheered for their team and were delighted to see them beat the boys, 5-3. The girls team came over to our side of the ice after the game and tapped their sticks and waved to our team to thank them for supporting them throughout the game.
All of our players then went to the door to congratulate players from both teams, even though they had been treated so badly by so many of the boys on the team the night before.
When the ice had been cleared, I had multiple parents come over to thank us for cheering on their team and let us know how wonderful the sportsmanship that our team had shown was.
As I said before, I couldn’t be more proud of my daughter and the player that she has become on the ice. She stands up for herself, she stands up for her teammates, and she stands up for what she believes in.
I am proud of her, not just because she is a hockey player, but of the woman that she is becoming.