My son and his team played in the divisional state hockey championship this weekend. They lost their first game, so they automatically lost the ability to win the championship trophy. After that first game, in which their team played hard but was handily outskated and outwitted by their opponents, many of my son’s teammates skated right off the ice into the locker room. But my son, after fist bumping with all of the players, took off his right glove and shook hands with each of the referees and the opponent’s coaches. I swallowed tears at this gesture. My son knew they were out of contention for first place, but he had the heart to still act like the champion.
His team went on to win the second game yesterday and played for the consolation trophy this morning. Late in the second period of today’s game it was tied 2-2. My guy had a breakaway with a teammate and an opponent quickly closing the gap as they moved towards the goal. In a split second, he could have made a shot that likely would have pulled their team ahead, but he made a beautiful pass to his teammate. His teammate then shot and missed. Another teammate made the remaining two goals – alone – no passing when other players were wide open.
After the game, in which they won, and took home the consolation trophy, and well after the gear was packed up and we were headed home, I asked, “Why did you choose to pass?”
“Because I really wanted my teammate to have a goal in the tournament. I already had one yesterday.” The heart of a champion.
I’m so proud of my hockey player. Not for winning the consolation trophy, for making goals, for winning games, but for being the person he is on and off the ice. He is coming into his own, and at this young age, already knows champions shake hands after a loss, pass to teammates, and celebrate wins and losses as a team. He’s mine, so of course, he’s always my state champ, but today he showed everyone at the rink that he is also their state champion.