We are at it again. When the ice comes in the boy and the girl lace up their skates. And with two kids playing on two varsity teams we have about all the ice we can handle. As if it were enough, Mark is also out on the ice on Tuesday and Friday evenings in Brattleboro as he continues to build what he never developed fully as a kid and, when he is honest with himself, he knows he will never fully develop as an adult: hand and eye coordination.
Of course if you follow the narrative arc of this family you know that the ice is never really out and that Ellinore, in particular, never seems to come to the end of her season. The endless summer of sun and surf was always the dream thanks to Bruce Brown’s 1966 film; but now, with winter winds whipping through the barren hardwood forests of the northeast, it is an endless winter with damp jocks standing in for board shorts and stinky shoulder pads replacing a tank top. It might be depressing if one actually stopped to think about it.
But I don’t. It is a joy to watch your little girl keep growing and skating faster every day as she slides through the early twenty-first century sports world that offers young girls the opportunity to not only participate but to compete at the highest levels. Pretty cool, really.
So throughout the summer we found ourselves in Burlington, Vermont, at the North American Hockey Academy Showcase and then, a couple of hot and humid summer weeks later, at the Beantown Classic Showcase in Massachusetts and then, before July is out, Ellie is spending a week at the USA Hockey New England District Development Camp at St. Anselm’s College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Did I say she participated in a power skating clinic before kicking off the fall season with the Vermont Shamrocks in the Vermont Stars Fall Classic and the Lake Placid tournament with a USA Hockey New England Festival Tryout with an afternoon callback squeezed in between?
The day after Lake Placid Ellie was back on the ice following a day of Biology, French and Math classes. And as she was working on her transitions and stops and starts I found a letter she wrote to her coach last year at the beginning of the season when he asked all the players to write down three goals.
I have three goals for the next two weeks:
My first goal is to make the varsity team. To achieve this goal, I will work my hardest during tryouts and push myself. I am confident with my skills; but I also know where I need improvement. I need to work on my wrist shot and my slap shot. I also need to work on moving my feet to the puck more consistently.
My second goal is to establish my place on a team that is predominantly older girls. I want to earn the respect of my teammates and my coaches. To do this, I will work hard on the ice and I will work hard to create relationships with my teammates. This will help me achieve my longer-term goal to become a consistent contributor to the team and to have my teammates feel like they can rely on me.
My third goal is to have fun. Hockey is one of my favorite things to do, and I have never had the opportunity to skate very day with the same group of girls. I am looking forward to creating bonds on and off the ice.
I also found a coaches handout Ellie received a few weeks into the season:
Quick Feet: Can you stop and start fast enough to win races all over the ice? Are you quick enough to be able to find open space in the slot to create a scoring chance? Can you use your quickness to change direction instantaneously and win 1 on 1 battles?
Quick Hands: Can you stick handle your way out of a tight space when under pressure? Are your hands fast enough to deke out an opponent while you’re skating at full speed? Can you fake a pass or shot and still maintain full control of the puck at game speed?
Quick Release: Can you consistently get your shot off even when you are under full pressure? Can you take a hard shot without a full wind-up? Do you need tome to set up the “perfect” shot or are you willing (and able) to get off a good shot with little time and space?
So off we go. In spite of quick feet, quick hands, and a quick release, the lady Hoggers lost their first scrimmage of the 2014-15 season 1-2 against Winchendon School. And this week they are gearing up for two additional preseason games: the annual tussle with the girls from Quebec’s Stanstead College and a Friday evening game vs.the New England Falcons.
Nathaniel, you ask? Alas, he has been injured, and is in recovery mode this week, drinking hot chocolate and keeping the score sheet for the boys varsity game on Wednesday, a 5-1 win vs Northfield, New York. He will back practicing later this week and, we hope, available for a game soon.