On Being a Hockey Dad - Scott Smith
It’s 3:30 on Saturday morning in January. I’m creeping down the stairs to warm up the car. In the basement, I’m dressing in my mind and stuffing a bag; pants, socks, shirt, headwear, footwear, tape, stick. At the last moment, I coax my sleeping son out of bed and quietly half carry him, still partly asleep, out of the house. I put it in reverse and, under cover of darkness, slip out of the neighborhood.
I’m not a spy or a kidnapper… I’m a hockey dad, and we have a 45-minute drive to our 5:30 a.m. ice time.
Everyone reading this knows what I am talking about. When I walk into the rink, it’s just one meeting of eyes and we each acknowledge the sacrifices we make of sleep and weekends and holidays for our players.
I coached mites, midgets, and peewees until I turned my players and families over to their high school or club coaches; Taylor (‘10) came to Prep in ‘06. I needed to find another way to share my enthusiasm for the game and hockey community. So when I was playing paparazzi or putting a program together, I was simply extending my lease as a hockey dad. I loved all the kids and parents. I did it for fun.
There were dads who showed me the ropes, like Bob Kemp and John Marcus, and those who were here with me: Dave Chadwick, Sean McDonald, Allen Taylor, Tom McNamara… REAL hockey dads. The phrase hockey dad is not gender-specific; Andrea Taylor, Anne McNamara, Cheryl McDonald, Carroll Drewyer and Reggie Hall could all be hockey dads. My Dad, Dan Morgan, too. He actually gifted Taylor his first season of youth hockey.
It’s a privileged club, being a hockey dad. It’s the gift of watching your child do something that few can or will do. The ice time bonds us in a way nothing else does. And then, just as games sometimes suddenly end, so does our time as hockey dads. We can go watch a youth hockey game or a pro game, and it’s fantastic, but it’s not the same; we don’t belong to the club anymore. (Unless, of course, it’s Prep-Landon-Gonzaga. Then we belong.)
But the Scott Smith Game makes us PART of it again. The memorable wins and losses, the camaraderie, and the smell of a hockey bag all come back as we gather to share this game with those who came before, with, and after us.
See you at the rink. I know you. You’re a hockey dad.