Brett has a hockey buddy and teammate named Cole. They have played together for 2 seasons, and Cole’s mom and I were the co-managers last season. Cole is a middle child. He has one older brother who is also a hockey player, and an adorable younger brother who is always there as the sidekick, playing with his toy dinosaur or some other fun figurines or his ipad. Annie, their mom is usually toting all the boys around together while she is managing 100 emails and texts from parents of 2 teams and her friends and colleagues. The big bag she carries has literally everything in it. People at work say that my purse is the “Mary Poppins” purse, but I would lose that distinction if they saw Annie’s bag. The younger brother loves to get a few dollars to get a drink from the vending machine, and while she is tending to his cute requests, she is simultaneously helping with gear, finding out the answers to questions, and addressing team issues that come up with sensitivity and care. She is the most amazing multi-tasker I have ever seen. She put up with my tidal wave of questions as her new co-manager, patience which I will always remember and forever appreciate. She is sweet and sensitive, and also fiercely protective of her kids. I have seen her put parents from opposing teams in their place, and it’s awesome to watch because you don’t expect it. Typically soft spoken, if something rude or inappropriate happens, she speaks her peace, suddenly and without warning, “HEY. THIS IS A KIDS GAME” or “THIS ISN’T BALLET FOLKS” and then sits back down. “Disgusting behavior”, she will say after a warranted exchange. She will protect her people. I love her.
Her son, Cole, is just like her. Brett and I talk about him often. He plays defense, and could easily win a “player of the game” award every single game for effort and loyalty. There is never a time, ever, he has had a lackluster attitude. He puts forth 100% every practice, every game. Committed to the sport and his team, everyone benefits from having him around on and off the ice. He is an excellent defensive player, sometimes hurling his whole body in front of a puck that is headed for the net, doing his BEST to get that puck away from the goal. Besides being a skilled hockey player, he is also a really good listener…so if there is info to be had or insight to gain, Cole is your man. In the locker room, I see him smiling and taking in all the conversation, storing it all in his memory bank for later if needed. Like his mom, he is a fiercely loyal, and he holds his friends near and dear to his heart.
There are so many teams out there that promote nasty behaviors in their players, it is shocking. Purposeful physical aggression, profanity and insults, mockery….all intended to trigger the players to react. Time and again, during a tense moment in a game, a player from another team will say something terrible to one of our players to throw him off his game. As parents we can see what’s happening, but have no control of the situation, so we hold our breath. We watch and wait. I witnessed an incident during one of our final games. A kid came over, and said some obnoxious remarks to Jack, our best shooter, who started to get upset. Cole skated right over, doing this twist the stick around so the top was facing the ice move, and just stood slightly behind Jack and stared into the eyes of the aggressor, causing him to back away. You could have cut the tension with a knife, until the ref came and snapped everyone out of it. Cole has your back, every time. Cole never provokes. He will however, react and defend. Another time, there was a kid who started swearing and punching one of our players in frustration at what they felt was a bad play, and there was Cole, by his teammates side in a matter of seconds, ready to just stare or maybe give a push back if necessary. When we were down points, Cole would always go to the goalie, say something to keep his head in the game, pat his helmet or give a fist pump. Another time, an opponent was shoving and swearing and again, there was Cole, without hesitation, standing by his teammates side. The player took it too far and pushed again. Cole pushed back and hard in defense of his friend. Cole is a big kid, tall and broad shouldered. On skates, he’s a force to be reckoned with, towering over most of the players. If you get pushed by him, it’s going to send a clear message. Don’t mess with my team. EVER. Both kids got a penalty for being physical, and of course, we could hear Annie’s voice, “IT’S FINE COLE. THAT KID WAS BEING A JERK!” We all agreed.
You have to stand up for yourself sometimes, and if you need back up, Cole’s always by your side. The world’s a better place because he’s in it, and his past and future teammates are so lucky. True loyalty is rare. It is a gift. Hope Brett gets to play with him again next season. We think the world of you, Cole, and I love your mom.