My emotional state today could best be described–well, by Chaos theory?  Maybe that’s just by chaos.  Random ups, downs, moments of positive self esteem, moments of lacking self esteem–and then throw some hockey talk in for good measure.

A teary-eyed morning greeted my sleep-desiring soul today.  I dealt with a lot of self-reflection this morning about Micah, his death, all the things that he, that I, that we were missing.  A chat with Nick, his roller hockey coach, about how his teammates from last season’s Outcasts team did at their first NARCh tournament this past weekend in Irvine, brought up many feelings of loss–reminders of what I was not experiencing with Micah at this kickoff to a new season of “travel” roller hockey, reminders of the text from one of Micah’s ice and roller hockey friend’s mothers from Friday, saying how much she missed having Micah around–having our whole family around with him, reminders of how much those long drives to Irvine or Huntington Beach meant to me–even if my conversations with Micah were only 10-15 minutes out of every hour on the road.  I say, write and post “I miss Micah” or “I miss my son” so much–but it really can never be enough to express how much I miss him.

At work, I shared a couple laughs with a long-time coworker, finding an odd comparison between the nuances of another coworker’s speech patterns that reminded us both of Foghorn Leghorn.  I shared a chocolate chip matzo cookie with my boss and talked about the merits of a convection oven versus a traditional oven, and whether it made sense for ordinary mortals like us to own dual ovens.  I spent a little time examining a new appeal coming up where the judge let the State slide on violations of numerous statutes because, apparently, its more important to keep someone under a court order than to protect that person’s due process rights–even though protection of this person’s rights would not have precluded the State from filing a new petition within hours to do the same thing as accomplished by violating this person’s rights.

Got a call from an old friend (we used to be real close…said he couldn’t go on the American way…  Oh, wait, I’m slipping into Billy Joel lyrics…) from the hockey world, concerned about Arizona kids losing out spots on Arizona hockey teams to kids being imported from other states (or countries).  He called me because he knew that I really cared about Arizona youth hockey–but not just the hockey part, the youth part.  What happens to these kids in our state–how they’re treated, the experiences and opportunities they get, are far more important to me than how many titles one organization or the other gets–and certainly more important to me that how much money each organization can make because of its reputation or popularity.  This was my self esteem high point for the day–knowing that someone with much more hockey background than me had that much respect for my thoughts on youth hockey in Arizona.  More than that though, he believes that I can have an impact–that I can bring about a change to benefit Arizona youth hockey players.  I think he’s right–I just need to find the best means of doing so.

After a brief stop at home, it was off to my grief group with Cynthia and Avi.  I can’t say much about what was said in group–everyone there has suffered losses, and we simply don’t talk outside of group about what others divulged.  I can say that it helped me–again–and that hopefully in turn my comments helped others.

Unfortunately, just as the weight seemed to lift this afternoon–between the thoughts and comments of a friend and a positive experience in peer grief counseling, the weight came back to rest on my chest as we got home.  It was one of those weird moments where I wasn’t sure–and still aren’t sure–what brought it on.  I tried being busy, packing up the defective 3d printer to ship back tomorrow for a replacement.  I tried listening to the Diamondbacks game (great game – the Diamondbacks won AND helped my Cubs in the process, beating the Cardinals 12-7).  Finally I just had to say something…type something.  With hockey tryouts going into full swing this weekend, I wanted to say something about hockey tryouts, being “smart consumers,” asking tough questions, and not being forced, bullied or even just pressured into making quick decisions without all the information.  Here was my first draft:

Here we are, just six or so weeks from the end of the 2015-16 hockey season, and we’ve already seen a couple weekends of Tier I (“AAA”) tryouts and this weekend a couple organizations are holding their Tier II (“AA”) tryouts.  People often ask me when the “offseason” is for youth hockey.  I’m still trying to come up with an answer.  🙂
So, here we stand…parents anxiously waiting for their kids to take the tryout ice–and leave the tryout ice.  Waiting for that phone call…or old-fashioned paper posting on a rink wall or window…or website posting of who each organization wants to place on their rosters.  Now, mind you–these aren’t rosters as such, just lists of the names of kids they WANT on their rosters.  I remember a couple years ago seeing Micah’s name on two simultaneous lists.  I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to play on two teams at the same time…
Attached to each list is a little ditty that goes something like this: “If your (child’s) name is on this list, you have 24/48 hours to go to XYZ.com website and claim his/her spot.  Any players that do not claim their spot within 24/48 hours are no longer guaranteed a roster spot.”  Okay, they probably won’t be that verbose (no, I don’t write those lists).  But you get the idea.
So, what do you do if your kid’s name is on the list?  Well, if both you and your child really think THIS is the place, I suppose you hop on the iPad, go to the website, pull out your favorite credit card, and SNAP!  You’re done.
I stopped.  I started.  I stopped.  This was getting too technical–for a Facebook post anyhow.  At some point after Micah passed away–and probably even before he passed away–I stopped caring what certain people, coaches or organizations thought of my comments.  I had thoughts and feelings about youth hockey, and by gum, I was going to share them.  If you don’t like what I’m saying, then: a) it’s hitting way too close to home, and maybe you need a little self-reflection time, b) you disagree with me for your own rational reasons, so we’ll agree to disagree, or c) it’s late, I’m tired, and my writing is basically illegible alphabet soup.  Okay, I care a LITTLE about what other people think, but I’ve never really been one to cow-tow to anyone, to bite my tongue or to let a perceived injustice stand unchallenged.  (Guess that’s why I’m a public defense attorney…)
Yes, I have a team and organization that I represent.  Yes, I want my team to be successful.  Most poignantly at this time, yes, I am worried that so many parents will be taken in by used car salesmen at other rinks that there won’t be many kids left to try out for my team in three weeks.  We all think the world of our kids.  They’re OUR kids.  Of course they’re the best, the fastest, the most skilled, the most talented, the freshest smelling kids around!  We all love to have our egos stroked by being told that our kids have “what it takes” to be successful at anything–sports, theatre, music, hopscotch, underwater basket weaving, third world child marriage rituals (okay, maybe not basket weaving).  I’m just hoping–praying as it were–that a few parents, a few well-meaning, good-hearted parents will read my diatribes and stop, if just for a moment, to think about what I’m saying.  If there are 1000 kids playing hockey in Arizona today, maybe a couple will get the chance to play professional hockey.  Does this mean our kids shouldn’t dream?  Of course they should dream, and parents should encourage those dreams…but be reasonable.  What can a coach of six and seven, or eight and nine, or even 13 and 14 year old hockey players really promise?  Think about it.
Yes, I want to start a tidal wave with a small pebble.  I want to start a grass-roots movement to take back youth hockey for our youth.  I want to see goalies getting developed and trained just like their skater counterparts–not only if their parents can afford $100 or 150 or 200/hour for private lessons.  I want to see those goalies get a chance to play hockey in Arizona on Arizona teams and not be discarded to pluck better-trained, better prepared goalies from another state or country that actually puts time and effort into developing their goalies.  I want to see all organizations in Arizona develop players from the lowest levels on up.
I know, I want a lot–for and from others.  Maybe some day I’ll get just a taste…
David
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