Jake started playing hockey in October. I signed him for pre-hockey Level I. Half way through the season, I got an email from his coach informing us that Jake had been promoted to Level II and so we should take him to the ice rink an hour later. A couple of weeks later, he told a small group of parents that our children were invited to pre-register for the In-House League. There would be a tryout to determine their eligibility.

Jake and I had a discussion before the tryout. We decided that whether or not he’d make the League wasn’t that important, but he’d play like a winner by giving all he had. So last Saturday, we arrived at the ice arena early in the morning for the first part of the evaluation. At the parking lot, I realized we forgot to bring his stick. So dad turned around and I went in with Jake to put on all his gears. Jake handled the disruption surprisingly well and his stick arrived just in time. In the rink, the kids were divided into groups and there were half a dozen judges standing around with timers and notepads in their hands. At the end of the hour, Jake felt positive and confident about his performance. We praised his great effort.

Sunday afternoon, the whole family including Jim went to the rink to show support. This time the players were assigned to teams to play against one another. It was explained to us that they were looking for kids who were ready to compete. When it was all done, I wasn’t sure if Jake would make the cut. He skating skill is quite good, but he wasn’t as fast as some of the other boys. Michelle thought he wasn’t aggressive enough. We’d get an email on Tuesday either way.

Jake asked if I’d received the email when he came home from school on Tuesday. He asked again on Wednesday. On Thursday I sent a note to his coach and got a response pretty quickly. Jake made a spot on an In House team! Our little boy was quite excited when he heard the news.

We kind of stumbled on hockey by accident. Jake started taking figure skating group lessons about a year ago. One day his coach approached me and offered to teach him one-on-one. Jake was receptive to the idea. So we began the private lessons, first once a week and then twice a week. On a number of occasions, we went to the ice arena on skip days (because I forgot to check the schedule) and so Jake and I stayed to watch the hockey games. Jake repeatedly expressed an interest in playing hockey but he wanted to master skating first. A few months ago, I suggested to him that it might be time to try hockey because he was turning into quite a skater, and plus he would be playing with kids of his age, not those teenagers we saw in the games. Jake liked my idea.

Jake still likes figure skating. He is learning spinning and jumping, which is difficult and frustrates him sometimes. I’ve met the parents of a couple of Asian boys who skate competitively. Henry is 14 who just won 7th place in the sectional competition. Only the top 4 qualify for the national. Henry and his parents have a tough decision at hand as to whether to continue with the sport or quit. Matt is a 4th grader and skating is the love of his life. From my conversations with his mom, skating seems to be the engine of motivation that enables Matt to excel in everything else he does. His mother takes him to the rink six times a week to take private lessons and practice.

I never knew that the competiveness of the various sports started as such young ages. No wonder Michelle couldn’t make Varsity tennis in high school. She didn’t play tennis until eleven. She was good but not good enough to make the team. I am grateful to Jake’s coach for cultivating his interest and developing his skills in ice-skating. Joe and I understand that both figure-skating and hockey are expensive and dangerous sports that requirement incredible commitment. We don’t know how long Jake’s interest will last and whether it will turn into a passion. However through training and group sports, Jake is learning some invaluable life lessons about endurance, flexibility, winning and losing. It also takes his mind off electronic devices. He’s learned to tie his skates tightly and perfectly. For a while, it was such a struggle because he rejected my assistance since I couldn’t do it right.

For now, we have a lot of practices to go to and games to watch. We’ll just enjoy the games and cheering for our boy and his team. The rest will take care of itself.