In 2017, Brett was privileged enough to participate in a pond hockey tournament at Lake Morey in VT. It sits near the New Hampshire border, snow capped mountains surrounding the frozen lake. The view is breathtaking. A 4 mile ice skating pathway takes skaters on a bumpy, exciting journey around the whole lake. You can see families, some holding hands, laughing, skating together taking in the crisp, mountain air. Some were sitting on the snow, taking a needed rest. There are ice fishing huts and year round residences tucked into the shores of the lake, offering the beauty of this place year round. I only imagine what it looks like in the summer with fishing boats and kayaks, and in the fall with the colorful foliage.
But here we were in the winter, and getting ready for a pond hockey tournament against teams from all up and down the North East corridor. I never knew anything like this existed, and I have traveled to dozens of countries around the world. And here, a few hours away, was this jewel of a place right in our backyard. I love new places. I couldn’t wait to see this tournament unfold. The tournament was set up for the teams to play games on mini-rinks, shoveled rectangles in the snow on the frozen ice. Nature’s rink. Perfect in their imperfection. There must have been 20 mini-rinks or more with games going all day long. There was a resort hotel right on the lake that hosted the event. Amazing energy everywhere. They had barbecues going with various grilled fare, putting delicious smoky, appetite stimulating smells into the air. Parents stood in groups around tables, playing music, buying hot chocolate or coffee to keep them warm while standing in the frigid air while waiting for their kids to play. Little ones played their own mini hockey games or threw footballs. It was the most amazing vibe, hockey bringing people together. I couldn’t wait for Brett to play.
This particular season, Brett had a buddy named Joshua. Joshua and Brett were so bonded, so funny together, so silly, and the bonus, we loved his parents. So, we made sure our rooms were close in the hotel, so the boys could run up and down hallways and play “Boom Beach” and “Clash of Clans” after playing hockey. It’s always more fun with a good friend. These two were a constant comedy routine, sometimes to our exhaustion as parents. Joshua was a strong player on the team, and Brett was still working on his skills, but none of that mattered. Joshua was so encouraging about Brett’s level of skill, and Brett loved every minute with him. They were just good friends, who got to enjoy this amazing experience together. There was laughter all the time, as it should be with friends. We felt lucky. It was such a happy time. Sharing this with J would make it all the more special.
The weather for our games was frigid. It was in the single digits and then there was the wind chill. It was literally freezing. It was a gray day, and there was some frozen mist in the air. The mini-games kept the players warm, but all the parents were shivering and chattering..loving it, but wanting the warmth of indoors again. The games had short periods, so every moment counted. Brett was so focused during one of the games, that when the puck went flying towards the snow bank, he dove into it, grabbed the puck and threw it back onto the ice…totally against the rules, but he gave everyone a chuckle. The puck was his to save for the team. When the games were over, the score never really mattered because they just had such a blast being kids, being outside, playing the game they all love.
When the boys were done playing, and pictures were taken, everyone dispersed. Brett and Joshua just were not done yet. They wanted to hang on to every second, so they wanted to take the challenge of skating around the whole lake. So, we did. Brett, Joshua, Devin (Joshua’s Dad), Brett’s Dad and me. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. Skating, feeling the cold air, seeing the ice fishing huts up close. We weaved in and out of rough patches on the ice, but kept on, talking and laughing. The boys soaked in nature, gliding along the ice. They joked around, laughed, made up challenges…it was so pure. So simple. 4 miles of heaven, making memories for a lifetime. And, when we completed the loop, the boys laid down on the ice, literally exhausted. Probably for the first time in their lives.
This tournament was not just about hockey. Trust me, the hockey part was amazing, but it was also about nature’s beauty, true friendship and the simplicity of just loving a game.
Thank you hockey.