As a kid, I didn’t grow up playing hockey. In fact, my skating experience was limited to once or twice a year on a frozen pond near my house.
However, when my kids joined a local hockey team three years ago, I found myself an official “hockey mom” whose weekends were filled with team practices, hockey games, and cheering alongside other hockey parents—and I loved it!
This past winter, I was fortunate enough to meet two other hockey moms who also played on a women’s hockey team. For weeks, they told me how much fun I would have if I joined. And as a parent who tries to encourage their kids to try new things, even if they’re scary, I had to heed my own advice. So I decided to give it a go.
The night before my first time out on the ice, my hockey bag was packed, my stick was taped, my skates were sharpened, but I was so nervous I could hardly sleep.
All I could think about were the worst-case scenarios. What if I’m so terrible that no one passes me the puck? What if everyone on the team is friends and I’m the odd person out? What if I just don’t belong?
After lugging my bag into the change room, I quietly took a spot on the bench and began putting on my equipment, hoping no one could see how nervous I was. As the clock ticked towards our start time, a player slid next to me and happily introduced herself and the rest of the team.
I took a deep breath and realized all my worrying might have been for nothing.
I wish I could tell you that I discovered my secret hockey superpowers and effortlessly turned into the next Hayley Wickenheiser, but the truth is, it was hard. I fell a couple of times, I missed a ton of passes, and, on more than a few occasions, I found myself nowhere near the puck because everyone was already moving down the ice.
However, what I can tell you is that it was by far the most fun I had playing sports in a very long time. That hour was so full of laughter and cheering and high fives, I couldn’t wait to go back the following week.
Since that first day, I’ve been lacing up my skates every Friday, and not only do my teammates cheer me on when I play great (and encourage me when I am not so great), they make me feel like I’m part of the team.
They make me feel like I belong.
Along the way, my kids have seen first-hand that hockey moms can turn into hockey players, too. More importantly, they’ve learned to never let fear hold them back from discovering new things.