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Hockey is not the sport I grew up watching. Basketball was the sport of choice in our house and my first love was dance. My father thought hockey meant skipping school. He used to say, “I better not catch you girls playing “hockey.”” We all knew he meant “hooky,” but it was too fun to not correct him. The first time I actually saw a live hockey game was when our team danced on the ice between periods. Little did I know, I’d marry a man who is a huge hockey fan. My husband played the sport since he was five, and his father before him, and I’m sure his grandfather did too. I joke with my Liberian family and say it’s genetic.

When our oldest turned four it was time to teach him how to skate. My husband gave me a shopping list a mile long and sent me off to the sporting goods store. I was about to be initiated into hockey mom status. The shopping spree and final bill left me in shock.

Next step, training. For me. It takes a professional hockey parent to know how the pieces of equipment fit together and in what order they need to be added to the puzzle. Imagine learning on a squirming four year old boy.

Sticker shock and puzzle pieces gave way to joy. Joy at seeing the game through my son’s eyes. Joy at the love of the game expressed through his smile, excitement and connection with his teammates. Love for the game grows in me a little bit more each time I wrestle with the gear. Okay, maybe not then, but after, when he’s up and running onto the ice.

To be fair, I’ve had to learn some lessons the hard way. So, I’m sharing for all those newcomers for which “hockey” is a foreign word, or maybe implies skipping school…

  • Breezers are not only really good cocktails but they’re also protective hockey shorts
  • Hand warmers, an electric vest, a Parka, a blinged out knit headband, and great Sorrel boots are essential for your health
  • Don’t be a fool, leave your leopard print jeans at home and rock some snow pants
  • Grab the mini cowbell that has your child’s name and number and ring that bell like it’s going outta style
  • Icing is a penalty – I’m still not sure what kind, but I’d rather have it on a cake
  • The Hockey Shack will be the closest thing to a day spa that you experience for a long time
  • Grab a blanket – indoor rinks are just as cold as outdoor
  • You can fit two hockey bags in your trunk – it’s like a jigsaw puzzle
  • You’ll have skate sharpening and coffee runs down to a science
  • Rink Ratting is another term for informal scrimmage
  • Breathe, if he’s the first Liberian-Scandinavian to play professional hockey, he’ll mention you

Whether my children play this sport for a short period of time or make it a lifelong career, I wouldn’t have my initiation or our family’s experience any other way. I’ll just keep dancing and cheering by the boards, rocking my snow pants and mad cowbell skills!