Tournament Time

I know I said I would write again, but I’ve been slacking… Ok maybe not slacking as much as extremely busy and reminded how much travel hockey takes over the entire family’s life.

But one of the things we missed, (especially Chief), on our one year hiatus was the camaraderie of the tournaments. Nothing beats being trappedstaying in a hotel with a team full of squirts running around trying to play knee hockey.

Our first tournament was far from uneventful. Our family contracted the 24 hour stomach bug thanks to the 4 year old, who has now been renamed Typhoid Mary, we endured an ice storm, and one of our team families lost their vehicle in a crash. Thankfully everyone was ok, and with the help of one of the other families, their child did make it to the rink on time. (Priorities.) Our boys who had a less than winning record all year came home with the silver medal. So proud of them.

So of course for this tournament, mother nature has scheduled a blizzard. Good luck to us! I’ll let you know how it turns out.

In the mean time, I have a question for you to think about… What are the snacks you like to bring on the road with you? One cannot survive on rink food and vending machines. Let me know in the comments below.

What do you do when there’s no hockey?

Well, it wasn’t “no hockey”, but it was “no travel hockey”. Hockey mom has to keep busy, so what does she do? She runs a marathon or two.

In our year break, I added some NYC and Boston Marathon bling to my collection and may have inadvertently made Red Chief the first hockey player that doesn’t dread the running portion of his conditioning.

But you can’t keep a good goalie down. So we’re back. Red Chief will be in net for a Squirt A team. Travel experience without a lot of pressure. I think he’s going to have a blast because he’s really missed the team environment.

So I’ll get back to posting real soon and he’ll get back to skating real soon and I think the mileage on my car is going to spike again.

Proper tailgating food – Buffalo Chicken Soup

Is running the grill a male thing? When you say dinner party/cook out/picnic, I don’t really care about the main dish; it’s all about the sides with me. So when I was invited to tailgate for the playoffs, (which ended up being in the middle of a monsoon), I wanted to bring something amazing. A quick trip over to brought me this gem of a recipe. I’m attaching the link but I modified the recipe so I will list what I did. And, uh, the amounts are just recommendations, I didn’t really measure anything. And by the way, I’m potentially the worst cook on the planet, (I’m a great baker though), so if I can make this, no excuses for you. Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Soup

2 stalks of celery – chopped
2 carrot sticks peeled and chopped
2-3 chicken breasts
1 8oz bottle of hot sauce
¼ cup of flour
8oz of shredded cheddar cheese
1 pint of light cream
1 32oz can of chicken stock
¼ cup of butter
1 small Vidalia onion diced

To prepare the chicken, boil chicken breasts in the chicken broth for as long as it takes for the chicken to start falling apart. Remove chicken from broth, (save broth, you will need it later), and shred the chicken using two forks. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a stockpot, add the celery, carrots, and onions. Cook until tender. (For all you cooking newbies, these are the aromatics, the holy trinity of French and American cooking.) You’ll know when they are tender. Just cook it low and slow, and dammit, be patient.

Add the flour and coat the vegetables. (Now we’re making a roux. And if you are lucky enough to know who Justin Wilson is, immediately you say to yourself in your head, “First you take a drinkie, then you make a roux.”, which totally goes with our tailgating theme.)

Add the chicken stock, (remember we saved this, and I actually added more than the initial 32 ounces that had reduced to stretch the soup), and continue stirring until the sauce begins to thicken and all flour lumps are dissolved.

Add the chicken, and light cream and continue stirring to combine the cream.

Turn heat higher up to almost a boil.

Add the hot sauce, and cheddar cheese when the mixture is warm the cheese will help thicken the soup as well.

Serve with crumbled blue cheese on top.

And there you have it. You’ll wow everyone at your next tailgate, if you are willing to share. Once you try it, you might not be so willing.

Let kids be kids….

We forget that sometimes, especially in the hockey world. I have, myself, gotten caught up in the madness to get on the best travel team, find the best elite camp, get the best seed at the tournament. But they’re still only eight years old. And they’re kids, not short adults. Sometimes you have to just let them play and advance at their own pace. I’m not judging anyone that gets caught up either, because I have to remind myself of this often. (Mommy is a little high strung in case you live under a rock and hadn’t figured that out yet.)

This weekend, I took Red Chief to play in the mud – a 5k mudder in Eastern Long Island to be precise. What eight year old boy doesn’t love to play in the mud? We were in the first wave of the morning, and he took off like a bat out of hell. He was a good two minutes in front of me, so periodically I would approach a marshal on the course and ask if they’d seen a short guy in all black with a jolly roger on his shirt. Most confirmed they had, some admitted they really weren’t paying attention at all.

About two miles into the race, apparently one of the marshal’s decided that Chief should not run alone, (and you wonder why we turn into helicopter parents?!?!), pulled Chief to the side and made him sit until mom caught up to him. I came through a clearing in the woods to see Chief sitting on an ATV with a pout on his face; I appreciate your help but you kinda took the wind out of his sails. As the run continued, my previously independent maniac turned into a whiner. (Our old division head for soccer can attest to the fact that when I am around, he reverts to helpless.)

“I can’t do it. It’s too hard. I’m too small.”

Thankfully the other runners started cheering him on.

“Come on, little guy, you can make it.”

Saved me from having to piggy back him for the last mile.

About a half mile to the finish, he got his stride back and we finished. He wasn’t really happy about being covered in mud at the end, but a quick wipe down and an Italian ice seemed to fix everything.

In the car ride home, (because mom’s can never just let it go), I told him, “Remember when you didn’t think you could do it and you wanted to give up, and you felt like this would never end, but you kept going anyway and eventually you got through it and it wasn’t as bad as you thought? That’s life, buddy! Do that every time. Just keep going, you’ll get there eventually as long as you don’t give up.”

And wouldn’t you know it, that kid took the ice for 2 hours later that day in goalie clinic and then finished his science fair project that night. What did you do Saturday?

UPDATE to the BS that is youth hockey on Long Island….

The organization that Chief was a member of is not returning calls to the organization interested in Chief. All they want to know is whether or not he is eligible. I’m half expecting the original organization to toll his contract.

What can you do? I guess we’ll get there eventually as long as we don’t give up.

Red Chief’s Red Shirt year

Red Shirt an 8 year old? That’s crazy talk!

For those of you that don’t know what red shirting, it’s allowing a player to dress and practice with a team but the player may not compete during any of the games for the season.

With three games left in the season, The assistant coach for Chief’s team told me he is such a problem on the bench during the game that he almost got kicked off the bench. My response was, “Why didn’t you kick him off if he deserved it, (or else how will he ever learn), and what what he doing?” He couldn’t answer either of these questions, and of all the coaches Chief has had, this is the only coach that has ever had a problem with him in hockey. (I have my theories – for another day.)

Around the same time, an opportunity to try out with another organization arose. This was a better fit considering I’ve finally given up the fight, he’s in goal full time this coming year. They offered more goalie coaching, and more practices, both on and off ice. So I got a release from the first organization, (btw, I swear leaving the Church of Scientology would have been easier), we figured we’d try out for both just to be safe.

Long story short, the tier 1 goalie of the past four years for the new organization decided to drop down to tier 2. Less travel, I’m not sure I blame them, but there was no way Chief was making it past that. He doesn’t really have any consistent formal coaching. You can just go ahead and blame that on me. And the organization didn’t have enough kids to populate a tier 3 team, so Chief was cut. That’s life.

But we had the first organization to return to or so we thought. On the last day of try outs, the assistant coach said, “You know the way he acted on the bench last year, he shouldn’t even make the team this year.” Again, that the problem was this severe was 1. News to us, 2. Given with no explanation, 3. Not addressed during the season. (Well why the f**k are you a coach if not to help these kids learn how to “play” the game and that includes being a good teammate. I can pay people with a hell of a lot better skills than this guy. Again, I have a lot of thoughts on why my son was suddenly a problem.)

So he’s an alternate for his old organization. That means I can pay full price, he gets to practice with the team, doesn’t get to play in any games. Seems reasonable, right? *beats head against the wall*

I flippantly asked my coach, (who also coaches at Chief’s level for a third organization), if he needed an 04 goalie. He’s a great guy and I trust him. His eyes light up, “yeah!”

Great! I tell him don’t feel obligated to take Chief, bring him down, try him out. If you can’t use him, we’re no worse off than we were before.

I get a call Saturday morning. Long Island Amatuer Hockey League rules, (which is a dead link on their site, btw) says if a kid tries out for an organization and doesn’t make it, he has to return to his original organization, unless he has been officially cut. (The question is now, does alternate count as cut? It looks like no.) Additionally there is a 2 player limit for movement from one organization to another, and this organization already has two players from the original organization.

Do you need a drink to follow this? I do!

So because he wasn’t technically cut and because there are two other players from the original organization that moved over, we have an organization that wants him, where he will get playing time that can’t have him, and we have an organization that doesn’t want him that won’t give up their rights to him.

So the only solution is that Red Chief gets to sit out a year of eligibility. He has no idea this is going on, he’s just happy to get on the ice when I put him on the ice and I’ve been doing clinics, going to add private coaching soon, I guess. It’s not like I’ll need that money for tournaments.

Does anyone else see anything wrong with this? If you ever wonder why Long Island isn’t turning out the number of elite players we think we should, I’m going to point to the fact that by design, they are limiting the opportunities OF AN 8 YEAR OLD! Chief could turn out to be a beer league player or he could turn out to be truly elite. We don’t know at this age. But apparently a couple of people are going to make sure we don’t get the chance to find out. I’m voting myself off the island, at least for the summer. We’ll be doing camp in MA. I just want to get away from here for a while. Meet other hockey people that aren’t so insular.

Any and all perspective on this is greatly appreciated. Maybe he can play in the KHL next year. Russia here we come!

The best worst day of your life

I recently wished my BFF happy one year anniversary — of her losing her job. It was a job she’d held since college; she had worked her way up the corporate ladder to a very respectable position only to be sabotaged by someone that had an axe to grind. (Totally unmerited too. BFFs work is top notch!)

In the span of 48 hours, her world turned upside down and her professional identity was gone. Her personal identity was hanging by a thread. And it’s really hard to see someone you love hurt so much.

I’m a cheerleader. When adversity hits, it’s time to get moving. I want to start making action plans, formulate an exit strategy. We can wallow in self pity later, when things have settled down; for now, there is stuff to do.

Not everyone can deal with that; and I respect it as much as I hate it. She needed to wallow and I needed to take a step back. (Truth be told, it was more like a get the eff out of my face.)

Fast forward a year and she has a fantastic job, she’s just been accepted into a masters program and she and I are back to planning dawn patrol blasting Brand New. What a difference a year makes.

So Red Chief heads into tryout season. He’s didn’t make Tier I already. This is no shock since mommy hasn’t gotten him the goalie training he needs; he’s self taught at the moment. But what a world of difference from last year’s fiasco. He’s still frustrating to watch, (I see his goalie quirks already), but he’s made a ton of progress and keeps moving forward.

And if we don’t make the club we want, it’s ok. In a year, everything will be different. We’re just going to go in the direction the universe takes us, however uncomfortable that may be.

Remember that at your next big disappointment.

Kat’s big gay hockey game….

You meet the greatest people playing hockey.

I just started playing to know what I was putting my son through. (I’ve skated 7 of the past 10 days. I now understand what I put my son through, and I owe that kid more legos. Ouch!) But through this sport, I’ve made some amazing friends. We’re enemies on the ice, (one of my dear friends even attempted to spear me on a breakaway), but off the ice, no such grudges exist and we even get to laugh over a few beers on occasion. It really is the greatest game in the world.

If you can play, you can play. That’s the tag line of the You Can Play Project which is “dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.” They’re asking you to remove 5 words from the lockerroom, (I guess 20 if you are the creative type). There are so many other delightful chirps you can lob that have nothing to do with a player’s sexual orientation. It’s not politics. 5 words – just 5 words. How hard is that?

So this past Saturday, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers hosted the first AHL YCP Night and I had the honor/priviledge of being involved. An amazing panel discussion, followed by an unfortunate loss to the Monarchs and then a chance to play with an amazing group of men – the NYC Gay Hockey Association, (a game in which I had no business playing – they owned my what I thought was “intermediate beer league” level ass), made for an incredible evening.

So why do I care? I think it is pretty obvious by now that I am neither gay nor a man. Someone screaming f-gg-t in the locker room isn’t really directed at me. It’s not my issue.

But it is….

If you love the game, I mean, truly love the game, you want to see the best players out there. You want to see the highest level of competition; whether competing or watching, you want the players out there to feel as much passion as you do.

In yoga, there is the concept of dharma. It’s the thing that makes you come alive. That burning desire inside of you that drives you. When your body aches after 6 nights of your old ass playing hockey, but the mere mention of more ice makes you spring up like you were a kid again – you’re fulfilling your dharma.

And I would hate to be the one that stands in the way of someone else’s dharma. That’s not going on my conscience. If you can play, you should play. And I will do everything in my power to fascilitate that.

No rest for the weary….

February break this week, (or what was supposed to be thanks to Superstorm Sandy), which means they usually back off on any house leagues in the mite/mini-mite world. So it’s been a blissful week of not having to drive all over God’s green snow-covered earth to games/clinics.

The other fun aspect of this is that mommy has gotten to play a lot more herself. 5 slots in the past 7 days. A few more skates and I’m gonna go pro. I heard the Islanders need a little help on their D.

But it’s also the annoying part of the year. Tryouts are coming up. In the immortal words of The Clash, should I stay or should I go. (Or more specifically, should Chief stay or should Chief go.) Best advice I’ve gotten so far, “At this age, go where your kid will get first or second line minutes, and where he will have the most fun.” Ok, I can do that.

But then there is the question of camp. With this year’s switch to goal, (seriously! why does the Universe hate me), I just have no idea where to send him. I had camps to send him to when he was a skater. I knew which ones he enjoyed and which ones he despised. Now all bets are off. Back to square one with a much more limited selection and a lot more research to do. Any and all suggestions of what to do with this kid are welcome. (PS. He announced at dinner last night he is moving to Canada because they have better hockey up there. Anyone in Toronto got a lead on an apartment to rent? How about a job for mom?)

Forget it. Maybe I’ll just send him to surf camp this year instead.

All your chocolate are belong to us

Mites win it. A cup full of chocolate for a bunch of kids already hyped up on sugar and artificial color and flavoring. I think we all need a detox. I haven’t mastered tournament eating yet.

Our secret to success is chocolate before and after the game. If you are what you eat, I’m a kiss *muah*

And now we are one hour into our 3.5 hour ride home. My bed’s going to feel so good tonight. And honestly, I’m just looking forward to doing some laundry tomorrow morning.

Tell a bunch of mites there’s chocolate in the tournament trophy…

And see what happens.

I’m back and on the road currently. Thanks to an iPad mini for Christmas, I should theoretically be able to make more periodic updates.

We’re at our second tournament. The first was the weekend before Superstorm Sandy so I didn’t really get a chance to sit down and reflect.

But right now, I’m sitting in a Friday’s in the middle of Hershey PA waiting for the championship game this afternoon. Wish the mighty luck. They’re playing great.

And the food just came. I’ll be back later.