When I was babysitting my nephews last weekend, I spent a lot of time talking with my older nephew, Daniel. We talked about all kinds of stuff, from music to pro sports, to all the sports with which he’s been involved. He especially enjoys hearing stories about his father’s childhood as well as my own stories.
As we were talking about his burgeoning floor hockey career, I told him this cautionary tale.
I’ve written before about the 4 years I played in a co-ed pick-up hockey league, back in the 90s. There were about 20 of us in the “league” (mostly hockey parents) and we would divide up into teams each week.
Sometimes we would be short on numbers and some of the parents’ kids would join in. It was especially important that we had two goalies. Not just anyone can throw on the pads and try to stop pucks, without hurting themselves. Such was the case one night when Ellen, one of our usual goalies and founder of the group, couldn’t make it. In her place, she sent a boy that played goalie on her kids’ team. The boy was 15 or 16, I’d say.
It’s often said that goalies are the “characters” of the team and that certainly held true with this kid. He came in the locker room and as we were changing into our gear, proclaimed loudly how he was going to slam the door on us old people and pitch a shutout.
“No way you geezers are scoring on me,” he said. “I’m younger and faster; this ought to be an easy night.”
Robert, our other goalie and an attorney in real life, tried to advise the kid that he probably shouldn’t be running his mouth, lest he provoke an unpleasant response. But the kid wouldn’t stop. He continued to crow about how we wouldn’t be able to score on him.
The kid should have listened to Robert, because all of us that ended up on the kid’s opposing team vowed that we were going to provide a little educational opportunity.
We went out there and won the game 8-0. Everyone that scored took the opportunity to emphasize the lesson to the kid. I scored two goals myself, and after each one, screamed at him, “Shutout, huh? Shutting the door on us, huh? How’s that for a buncha old people? Try shutting your yap next time.”
It’s hard to be subtle when you’re teaching a life lesson.
Later, back in the locker room, I saw Robert talking to the boy again. He had his arm around him, saying, “Repeat after me.
“I’m just going to come out and do my best.
“I’m glad to be here and hope I can give everyone a good game.
“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to skate with everyone here tonight.”
It was like that scene in Bull Durham where Crash Davis teaches Nuke LaLoosh all the classic interview clichés.
This time, the boy was soaking it up like a sponge. I hope my nephew did as well.
Bluz, after a hard night on the ice. (OK, it was a Halloween get-up, but I had my real gear on…)
The Mojo Boogie
The Steelers game is not on TV here this week, so it’s another day at the sports bar for me. The last 3 times I went to the bar, I wore the same thing and we won, so I won’t be breaking the streak today.
Black Steelers polo w/ white piping, yellow-fronted hat with Steelers socks.