The buzzer sounded to signal the end of the game, and our season, as it were. I looked down the bench at their 7 year old exhausted faces, some welling up with tears, and couldn’t help but feel terrible for them. They worked harder than I’ve ever seen them work and came up just a bit short. The first thing we tell kids after the trademark, “Have Fun”, is that if you work your hardest, good things will happen. It’s not easy to find out that sometimes your hardest isn’t quite enough to win.
It was also a strange experience for me because it was the first time I could feel my son’s disappointment after losing and I’ve been having trouble shaking it. No, seriously, I am putting on a strong face for my son and saying things like “you have to lose before you can truly appreciate winning” but inside I am heartbroken for these kids who left everything out on the floor. This is one of those times that I really miss my dad, who would have had plenty of these stories to share from my youth. I’ve always wondered what was going through his head as I sobbed quietly on the car ride home after being cut from a competitive team. I’m sure I’ll soon find out as my son enters the competitive age range.
As for my son, pride doesn’t begin to describe the way I feel about his growth this season. For the first half of the season he played passively, not really getting into the play, almost as if he were afraid of making a mistake. It wasn’t until a mid season tournament where we had a talk about determination that I noticed an almost instant change. The next game he came out tenacious, taking the ball and forcing the other team to make mistakes, which also resulted in his first goal of the year. After seeing the look of pride on his face as he returned to the bench, I knew there was no looking back. He even started adding “all new” before his name whenever he talked about his sports. Watching him work his hardest while also carrying a huge smile on his face has been my most rewarding time as his father up to this point.
Speaking of rewarding moments. In the true spirit of a Canadian hockey player, my son lost his tooth mid game last week, rinsed out the blood on the bench and got back out there for his next shift. I’m telling you, this kid is destined for great things 😀