One of my favorite science fiction movies of the past 20 years is Contact (1997), based on the Carl Sagan novel.  Towards the beginning, Ted Arroway (David Morse) tells a young Ellie Arroway (the adult-age version played by Jodie Foster), to use “small moves, small moves” to try and contact people through her amateur radio set.  The concept of small moves being the gateway to huge leaps is repeated again towards the end of the film, as adult Ellie talks to an alien that appears to her as her father.  She asks him whether we (humanity) will get another chance to travel through space to talk with the aliens.  His response: “Small moves, small moves.”  (As an aside, yes–this is another film that, even watching this brief scene, brings tears to my eyes…)

Earlier this week, I took my next in a series of small moves.  I officially notified the hockey organization I’ve worked with for the better part of the last five years that my time with them has come to an end.  I let them know that it’s time for me to focus on other things and put a little distance between myself and the daily hustle and bustle of youth hockey at the ice rink.

As I let my fingers take over on the keyboard, I found myself typing, “I do this for my own mental health.”  I had not really been overtly thinking about that.  I don’t know that those were the words I intended to use–they just appeared.  I stopped writing for a moment and looked at the words.  They were not an exaggeration or an excuse–they were a true statement of how I felt.  Being around the rink so much, dealing with the daily grind of youth hockey teams or a youth hockey organization on a close-up basis was causing me to feel lost, depressed, almost anxious.  The more time I spent there, the more it reminded me of how alone I was there.  Not that I didn’t have friends at the rink–I did.  But alone in the family sense–for nine years, I was almost never at the rink without Micah.  I did not sit around and sort, organize and plan–unless Micah was there on the ice.  Where I am right now, spending larger amounts of time at or around the rink is just too painful and has too many side-effects.

Will I miss people that I’ve grown accustomed to seeing around the rinks?  Some yes–some very much.  Others I will continue to see around the rinks, just less regularly.  A few will fade…  I find that hockey seems to imitate life in so many ways.  One way is that sometimes when you stop doing things for certain people, those people’s interest in you wanes.  This is how, I suppose, I will know who my friends are–and are not.

I still want to be involved with youth hockey, but I have discovered that I can do that in a far less painful manner tending to administrative duties: running meetings, organizing schedules, even helping to run league tournaments.  So, I will stick around and help with the state hockey league, work with my PWC family on the Cactus Cup tournament, and that’s probably about it for youth hockey for right now.

What about my scorekeeping?  Enough has come up/developed over the past couple weeks that it has become clear to me that my scorekeeping days are probably really over.  Things are just too political in too many places.  I’m sure my local scheduler would be willing to give me a few games here and there, as we have a really good relationship, but without my budget depending on the extra income, and with me prioritizing more time with my wife and daughter, and more time to develop true friendships away from the rink, it’s probably best that I not spend multiple nights per week rinkside.  So, while I was disappointed that the call never came this week to work the big games going on just a few miles away, I am not upset.  I asked for this–overtly or covertly.

My next small move…what form might it take?  I’m exploring those ideas right now.  So many things I would like to do…the trick is figuring out which ones will be the least disruptive to my family, to my mental health.

On a somewhat random note, my newest hockey jersey arrived yesterday.  With my recent small move, I am no longer directly linked to any individual organization.  I might still occasionally rotate my various jerseys for the youth hockey organizations that Micah played for…but more likely, they will get a good rest while I let my geek flag fly a bit.  I have a couple special jerseys that I might wear a little more often…

My current favorite… I’ve been saving this one only for use on Roadrunners game nights, and then only worn during gametime–I carry it into the rink on a hanger, put it on right before going into the scorer’s booth, and take it off before leaving for home.  I have this specialty from (great place to go for genre-themed jerseys, either standard issue or custom made):


And my latest addition:


I’ll be debuting this one tomorrow at work, and then tomorrow night as I keep watch over the first 14u White tournament game of the weekend.

And, of course, this is Spring Training…so this might also pop up from time to time…


After all, a technobabble GoalieDad has to have something to wear, right?