I didn’t play on teams that did much travelling until I was in high school. However, I remember those days well and it never fails to bring a smile, if not to my face, then at least within my mind, remembering the good times spent travelling with not just friends, but hockey-playing friends.
Peterborough to Ottawa for some beyond-the-city championship tourney (COSSA?), short trips to and from Fenelon Falls or Lindsay for the rare Saturday night game, Toronto for the Father David Bauer November tournament and the mother of all long nights, North Bay to Peterborough post-game on a cold late-winter night after a sad ending at OFSSA.
The music was Pink Floyd and Kim Mitchell and Geddy and his mates and all kinds of good stuff in between. There were card games and naps, chirping each other, chirping the coaches, chirping about girls and on en route to the game, thoughts of big moments to come. On the return trip, thoughts of plays made that felt good or, on the down side, mistakes made that left doubt, angst and frustration.
Sometimes old yellow school buses, sometimes fancier coaches, but the ride was the thing. The bus ride to play hockey and the bus ride home. Those were better than the good old days.
Ah, the boys from Humboldt and their bus ride. God, I feel for every single one of them. The driver of the truck. The families, the neighbours, the kid’s teachers, the team they never got to play. The ones who lived.
Like many who had a lump in their throat when they heard the news, and who had a hockey stick or two out in the garage, I put a stick at the front door. It seems like such a silly thing to do in some ways. It won’t make a difference. It won’t really lessen the pain to their loved ones.
In the same week that innocent people were gassed by their own country’s leader, I am reminded of how much suffering there is in the world that seemingly rolls off us, as if it’s not really affecting other human beings like us.
For me, hockey has always helped give a little bit of meaning to life when the world gets a bit out of whack. Or, I’d like to think it provides a little bit of healing balm to those in pain when the circumstances of their world are a little overwhelming.
This was a tough one. The stick at the front door may not mean much, but showing you care in any way you can is better than having it roll off you.