Another hockey season is behind us and while it wasn't as successful when it came to wracking up wins, it was more than successful in continuing to the forge the bonds of friendship that nearly morph into family ties.
Zach has been playing travel hockey since he was in second grade. I'm not sure exactly what constitutes a "travel hockey" caliber player at the age of eight but we were crazy enough to let him tryout for the Louisville Storm and they were crazy enough to put him on the roster...so began our inauguration into the world of travel sports. Lucas and Claire were itty-bitty so we would load everyone up into our Suburban and head off to parts of Indiana, Ohio or Tennessee to see what kind of competition we could find for these eight year olds who loved to play hockey...anytime, anywhere.
It was during our inaugural year that I learned there is so much more to travel sports than just the level of play for the the kids. For me, the world of traveling to see Zach play became more about the friends I made than the game being played. The other families who were crazy enough to load their families into cars at obscene hours of the day to drive to Nashville, Tennessee or Evansville, Indiana, or Cincinnati, Ohio so our little boys could lace up their skates (or rather have us lace up their skates for them) became my extended family. They were as insane as we were and the bonds were solidified as the kids kept playing together.
When Stan was offered a job here in Richmond the thing I checked out before schools and houses was hockey. Did they have a youth hockey program here and if they didn't it might have been a deal breaker for me. I knew the schools and the houses would fall into place but I couldn't move Zach (and Lucas who had just started playing) away from their friends and the sport they loved. Luck was on our side and hockey lives in good ol' Richmond, Virginia...who knew?
Richmond called us here in the summer of 2006. By September I had made a whole host of new friends. The world of travel hockey here embraced us and took us in. I was fortunate enough to land smack in the arms of a new travel partner. Leslie took me under her wing and made me an instant part of her world. She and I traveled the roads together with our oldest kiddos when Stan and I had to divide and conquer. Lucas joined the crazy world of travel hockey and now we had double duty. It was twice the work but the friends we made exploded as we tore up and down the interstates between Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and beyond...
Each year we seem to add new friends to our hockey family ~ growing bigger and bigger and making me realize how very fortunate we are to be involved with such a wonderful group of families. It might sound weird but these friends are nearly part of my family as we work together to sort out travel plans, practice schedules and making sure the boys have time together to just hang out and enjoy being together as friends and not just teammates.
I feel much the same way about Claire's swimming and dancing...working together with families to get our kids where they need to be, always ensuring each other's girls are loved and well cared for. Those friends are quickly expanding my family further. I still have many more months with them so I am not lamenting my with them coming to an end...yet.
The TRVLN ZU is at rest from hockey but she'll be ready when the new season is upon us and we are ready to tackle another season of the sport my boys, and I, can't seem to live without.
Traveling is for the love of my children....