This letter was sent to us by a player who received it from his hockey dad father, and was originally published nearly two years ago. The player said one thing before attaching the letter: “This is what it’s all about.”
We think this is something that every hockey dad will one day wish they had written to their sons:
Has it really been 18 years since I first took you skating? It feels like it was yesterday. I can remember the very first time, and the look on your face as you struggled to balance on those skates.
Has it really been 16 seasons of watching you play? Where has the time gone… how many hundreds of hours have we spent at the rink and in the car? How many trips to Tim Hortons have we made?
I find it hard to believe that now, in a few short weeks, it will all come to an end. The practices, the games, the trips to buy new gear in the summer, and all the camps.
While there is a part of me that is tremendously sad that it is ending, I would not trade the sadness I feel for anything in the world. I am sad not only because of the end, but because I know how you will feel a year from now.
While it would be easy for me to be selfish and complain about it ending, I can only hope you can find a way to replace what you have always known as routine. While you may be leaving the game as a competitive player, the game should always be a part of you. The memories you have should last a lifetime. The friends you have made will always be your friends.
Take these last games and relish every minute of them. Play with a passion that will allow you to let the game go as a player and remain full with the memories it has given you. Hockey may no longer consume you, but it will always be a part of you. As you walk away, know that one day you will come back.
This is a circle. It is a family thing. As a hockey dad, one day I hope you will experience the sadness I feel today with your own son. Why? Because there is joy behind the sadness.
Through this adventure we have taken as a family, you have grown into a man. A man that any parent would be proud of. You have a future, you understand rules, and you know what it is to be a team player. You have learned to give back, and you understand what it takes to push yourself beyond what you thought you could achieve.
My joy in having watched you grow into the person that you are today will outweigh the sadness of watching these last games, knowing they will be the last. My joy will one day be in watching you tie your son’s skates as you pass on this tradition.
I am proud of you. Thank you for allowing me to come along on this journey with you. I wouldn’t trade one minute of this experience for anything.
Published by permission of The Junior Hockey News.
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Wow! As a mom who is barely just starting our soon-to-be 5 year old son, this just touched my heart. I will one day be in your shoes. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Great letter, thanks for sharing it, I’m happy to say that I don’t have to face that day yet but I know that it’s coming soon enough. It’s amazing how so much of my son’s childhood was consumed by all of the time we spent in the car and at the rinks, talking about the games, practicing in the driveway together and bonding over a common love for the game that is definitely part of who we both are.
I’m feeling it ! My 16 year old switched from 8 years of hockey, to football (not the same!)
I’m a little confused as to why the kid is not going to play hockey anymore?
A special letter for sure. I coached in the Under 21 Division in the Greater Toronto Hockey League. We were the last place a retiring player could play. At the end of their careers we held a retirement ceremony and in some cases it was indeed a sad affair. We always suggested to the parents that they enjoy the final season and get as much out of it as they could. I was very lucky as my son joined our coaching staff on his retirement from playing in the GTHL which allowed us to spend time together. A few years ago I had to step down from coaching due to a family medical situation. I missed the coaching tremendously. My son moved on to coach his own team. He recently asked me to join his coaching staff and we are back at it now with the son guiding the father. We are again together in the game of hockey.
Stephen, that’s a great story with a happy ending. I know exactly how you feel about keeping that bond going. My son has now joined my rec league team and we get to play together on the same line.