Thursday, April 09, 2015

Closer to Ringette Closure

Easter Saturday. The elder girl took off with her mother to check in on Nana. The younger was ensconced in her room, attending to homework.

The perfect opportunity for Yours Truly to slip downstairs, get the laundry going, and engage in a little cathartic blubbering.
Gentlemen, retrieve your hankies.
I tossed the elder's ringette jerseys and equipment -- everything but the skates -- into the washer, hit "power," then sat and watched the cycle begin. And, yes, there were a few tears, some whuffling sobs, but nothing close to the head-in-hands-go-to-pieces episode I'd anticipated.

This was likely her final season of organized ringette. There's an outside chance she'll sign up again in the fall and play with some variation of the team she knows and enjoys. Were that to occur, I could envision getting lured back into the coaching staff. But a number of girls are moving on to higher ed, international travel, or some combination of the two -- the new team would be a markedly different set of girls than the one she's grown up with, so I'm not expecting it to appeal. Another option: she could join an open team in a house league, just for the joy of the game.

There's also a guy in town who's formed his own ringette league, on behalf of his university student daughter. He's a solid character I've got a lot of admiration for, but man oh man -- that strikes me as just a bit extreme. I can't help wondering if, had he not been able to add just one other daughter in his otherwise uninterrupted brood of boys, he mightn't be devoting his off-hours to some other passion. Maybe not. In any case, I won't be following his example.

Memories like this one kick-spurred the tears.

More recent memories, however, kept the floodgates from opening.

This was partially due to an absolutely sensational Ottawa tournament we'd enjoyed three years earlier. In the penultimate game, the girls pulled off an entirely unexpected win that had all the cliched elements of a sports weepie -- facing off against a larger, more aggressive (French, even!) team strongly favoured to win; coming up from behind; still down by one goal with less than two minutes left in the game; a tying goal scored by the centre-sniper; winning goal, mere seconds from the end; and above all, a depth of character that surprised everyone, including the coaches. Back at the hotel, we lit for the pool -- coaches and parents nursed drinks by the side, the girls took over the water and horsed around, not like 15- or 16-year-olds, but like they were eight years younger.

We got clobbered the next day's game, but it didn't matter.

That lightning doesn't fit inside a bottle, of course. A subtle sense of diminishing returns was almost inevitable, really. And it was helped along by growing evidence of other coaches and managers cooking circumstances to give their teams an edge -- including one idiot who swapped in a bunch of A-players, but kept the regular names on the game roster (had anyone been injured in that game, he'd have been sued into oblivion, because league insurance quite reasonably does not cover falsified rosters). Close it all off with a final tournament on the other side of the city, organized so ineptly as to suggest malign intent (cause for brooding meditation, as we painfully navigated rush hour traffic -- twice -- on Thursday, and the hours between bracketed games in the morning and evening of Good Friday(!)) and I was frankly relieved to be doing laundry while the play-offs took place 150 km to the west.

Besides, I'd been coveting my daughter's newer, lighter, more compact hockey bag for the last two years. It's daddy-o's now, heh heh!

So thanks for the bag, kiddo. And thanks for the memories. Your passion for this sport pulled me into experiences I'd never dreamed of exploring -- or enjoying -- as deeply as I did. I am one blessed dad.

I am a blessed man -- period.
To wit.
Oh, hey -- where'd that hankie go?

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