My proudest moment of my son's team winning the NIHL hockey championship has nothing to do with what took place on the ice

Winning the championship cup is the goal for any sport. For most young athletes it’s their equivalent to raising the Stanley Cup or Commissioner’s Trophy. It turns a great season into an unforgettable one. This weekend, I watched my son and sixteen teammates create lifelong memories when they won the NIHL Bantam Gold A championship game. No one expected their team to make the finals, let alone win the whole damn thing…except maybe them and their coaches.

But that wasn’t my proudest moment of the game.

nihl-8As with any competition, you hope for a win, but most of all you hope for a safe game. Yes, hockey is a physical sport, but you never want to see any players get hurt on either team.

When you’re watching from the stands, the emotional roller coaster that occurs within three thirteen minute periods is exhausting.

I’ve often left the rink feeling like I’ve finished a cardio workout (granted I’m the same person who finds grating a block of cheese a mini-arm workout).

Yesterday was no exception.

NIHL (Northern Illinois Hockey League) puts on a great pre-show for the teams. Lights. Music. Introductions.

As each of the players were announced, they skated to center ice and stepped off the rink to present their mom (or dad!) with a rose and have their photo taken together.

nihl-6Memorable? Yes.

So was watching their excitement as they threw their gloves in the air celebrating a hard-battled 2-1 win.

Make me a little teary? Sure.

But my proudest moment came much earlier…before the game actually began.

As each of our team’s boys met their parent for the photo and rose presentation, every. single. one of them hugged and kissed their parent.

It wasn’t planned.
They couldn’t see the skater before them do it either.

I’m sure it won’t make any of the boys’ top 10 memories of that game. Maybe not even top 100.

For me, though, it was the one moment that wasn’t about competition. It wasn’t about winning. It was simply about love.

nihl-7I am grateful that their coaches helped them become better players, better teammates, and fed their passion for the sport.

But, I’m most proud that besides growing into great athletes, these boys have become grateful and respectful young men.

And, as a parent, that’s a bigger trophy than the Stanley Cup.

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