the net -

Learning How To Fail In A Canadian Arena

When I was growing up I spent a lot of time in arena’s, but with a baton in my hand and the only high-sticking penalties were when my sister bonked me over the head with the said baton and was sent to her room for an hour.

So across Canada, I imagine there are many gathered around a rink watching someone play hockey. In my case, it was the younger niece’s Hockey game yesterday afternoon. For my sister this is her usual haunt, rinkside, standing in the corner at the glass, with a little gaggle of other parents. Many an early morning, afternoon, evening or even an entire weekend has been spent behind the glass of one or another of these houses of ice that liberally dot the Canadian landscape.

the landscape -

Before the game, as we were waiting for them to fix the Zamboni that had blown through some part or other, and the girls milled about in their matching pre-game gear, vibrant smiles, with long braids and messy buns, ranging in ages from 14 – 18 or so. Young, smart, brave, are they.

Once on the ice, it’s all business, and back and forth they go across the ice.

Standing around at the glass with them, my sister is in her element, me not so much. So I just did what came naturally, and began to try to capture this dance of the hockey player.

in sync -

My niece is the goalie, standing there between those posts, in front of their opponents goal – the net behind her.

As the swish of the skates on the ice mingled with the voices of the parents beside me, I moved to where I could get behind the net, seeing from her point of view.

the goalie -

So they lost the game, but they played hard. No one could fault them for not given’r, they just happened to be playing a really good team, who even had code words they used during the game to indicate different plays, my sister noted and told her daughter afterwards.

in motion -

I had been saying to my sister before the game how I think hockey is a bit different from other sports, in that there is somewhat less control the coaches have over the overall game itself, as the success or failure of the team is solely reliant on the team. Certainly coaching plays a role, for certain, but in the end, if the players are not together, it all falls apart. And, as my sister rightly commented: we learn more from our failures than we do our success’.

And from what I understand, my nieces had a lot of “learning” this year.

on the ground -

An important lesson, that, for, once you learn how to fail you can go forward and succeed, taking that knowledge with you. Falling down is all about how you get back up if you get back up, and what you are going to do differently so as to not fall next time as hard.

before the fall -

My niece seemed to take the whole thing in stride, spooning in her caramel ice cream sundae (an after game ritual my sister started this year) with the little plastic spoon, sitting behind us in the backseat, laughing occasionally at our silly stories of growing up, the baton bonking and other tales, such as the time I slammed my fist into her Mom’s gut for flipping incessantly through our 3 TV channels with our ‘new’ changer.

I have to say, I do admire my nieces’ bravery at wanting to be a goalie, besides the responsibility of minding the net, knowing full well you are going to get knocked about every single game.

My sister relayed a story to me from earlier in the year when her coach at one game kept her in, even after she had let in a couple pucks, rather than pulling her as she thought he should, as they were losing, badly. Afterwards, after reflection on the drive back home, my niece told her that she was glad he did, that she really learned a lot.

And I think my sister has the right idea, regardless if ya win or lose you still get your ice cream of choice afterwards. Eh? I think that is more important. : )

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