Hockey Tournaments | March 25, 2021

I saw a mug the other day that read, “I didn’t realize I had to know everything by my second rodeo.  Seems like a pretty small number of rodeos.”  The closest I’ve gotten to a bull is through my credit card (get it, because they both charge), but I do know that two times is plenty when it comes to mastering another type of event: youth hockey tournaments.  And because we just came back from my third out-of-town youth tournament, I’d like to use this opportunity to recognize its unsung heroes: Usually, The Moms.

Youth hockey tournaments are a wild ride because they are simultaneously 100% and 0% about hockey.  In this particular tournament my nine-year-old played in three games over two days: two on Saturday, one on Sunday.  Each of his gameplays required a sprinted checklist of unpacking/drying/repacking equipment and kids, cajoling snacks/chocolate milk/chicken fingers into said kids, traveling to and from the rink, buckling up goalie equipment, filling water bottles and taping sticks, and watching the game closely enough so as to answer questions such as, “What were your top five favorite saves that I made?” and “Did you see that one time that one player did that one thing and I did this other one thing and what did you think of that?”

That was the hockey portion of the tournament; the rest was one big party.  Tournaments are basically like going on vacation with one hundred of your friends and their offspring, except instead of sitting on the beach or riding roller coasters, your fun is spent in the time hanging out between games (and watching/playing the games, obviously).  While sometimes these tournaments are held in cities with extracurricular activities such as laser tag or shopping, most of that hanging out happens in and around the hotel and involves socializing (by the parents) and running around like wild animals (by the children).

And since they are one big party, the standard rules of parenting become as casual as “It’s five o’clock somewhere.”  Bedtimes, gone.  Limits, gone.  Day drinking out of the back of a truck while your kids play hide-and-go-seek in a haunted junkyard, fine.  I missed one of my son’s hockey tournaments and when I called Kyle to find out its status, he specifically announced that our child had eaten a vegetable on the way home, meaning that he hadn’t eat another vegetable at any other point during the weekend.

This is where Usually The Moms come in – because while there are plenty of dads who say, “Hey, stop pouring melted chocolate into your friends’ mouths and go have a little rest,” if anyone is going to poop on this 48-hour parade, it is Usually The Moms.

Do the dads tell their kids to order milk instead of Mello Yello, or make them wash their hands after rubbing them all over their friend’s armpits, or pack a toy backpack for the younger siblings, or put the kibosh on using bad words?  Yes; but it’s Usually The Moms.

At this particular tournament, we got back to the hotel at about 8:30pm after Saturday’s second game.  Knowing we had to get up at 6:30 the next morning for an 8:00 puck drop (after losing an hour to Daylight Saving Time), I ruined my son’s existence by only allowing him to go screeching through the halls with his friends for a half-hour before forcing him to take a shower and fall asleep before his head hit the pillow.  The screeching continued without my son until 9:59, when I heard three different doors open, three different moms give muffled lectures, and a zillion kids go, “Awwww, finnnneeeee.”  By 10:01, it was completely silent.

While our children will be surprised to hear this, Usually The Moms don’t want to be the fun killers.  The second tournament I attended was held at a hotel with a giant pool and hot tub.  There’s an unspoken group parenting agreement at these shindigs; and so, in this case, the first four adults to enter the pool area – four moms, as it were – took up the role of lifeguarding for all.  I was one of those four moms.  Kyle, and all of the other parents, sat outside on the bar patio having a grand ol’ time.

Our four sets of kids were the initial wave in the pool; within minutes, their compadres had joined them.  I’m not sure if it was a case of bad architecture or too much tile or (probably) a gazillion children shouting at the tops of their lungs, but the decibel level hovered somewhere near “sonic boom.”  Every ten minutes or so, one of the dads would pop his head in the pool door, make a comment about the noise, give the moms a thumbs up, and then go back to the bar.

We moms did our best to chat through the din, but after about an hour I could see it on my pals’ faces that they were working out the amount of time remaining until we could pull these creatures out of the pool without looking like jerkfaces.  Fortunately, that’s when our fellow moms started to arrive.  A few brought mini coolers with the intention of starting a mom pool party; but the minute that sound pierced their eardrums, their kid was out of the pool and on his or her way to bed.

As much as no one wants to admit it, these human hammers – Usually, The Moms – keep these tournaments from descending into Mad Max-worthy anarchy.  And so Moms (and sometimes Dads), I raise my half-drank juice box, my Gatorade bottle without a lid, my airplane wine bottle to you.  At the next tournament, as you’re trying to get a sweaty, half-crazed, sugarcoated kid to pointlessly brush his teeth before bed, know that this mom still thinks you’re cool.

The photo above is of my little goalie.

This week’s news has free food, free braces, and and a shipping-container-turned-cabin built with free materials.  Read on.

Call it his flow, his salad, or his hockey hair, the Fargo Force’s Nick Strom is now quite neatly shorn after donating his locks to the Cullen Children’s Foundation. (KVRR)

Fort Yates’ Kylen Running Hawk is the 2021 recipient of the National High School Heart of the Arts Award due to his passion for sharing the theatrical stage experience. (Dickinson Press)

The YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties has a new food delivery truck that is taking to the streets – stopping at 30 different sites – to get a week’s worth of food to 500+ area kids in need. (KVRR)

Bismarck’s Viktoria Gilliam is getting a mouthful of free braces thanks to her fellow girl scout troop members. (KX Net)

The Williston Boy Scouts filled up the Salvation Army food pantry with 2,861 pounds of non-perishables and household goods – and then they handed over a $1,170 check, to boot. (Williston Herald)

Linton’s Frank Kuntz and his 300 Nokota horses – half the world’s population – are the subject of an upcoming Netflix movie entitled “Vanishing Knowledge.” (Minot Daily News)

The kids at Cheney Middle School in West Fargo raised over $3,000 for their teacher’s son who is undergoing brain cancer treatment. (KVRR)

Two dozen Mandan high school students spent the school year building a farmer a two bed, one bath hunting cabin out of a shipping container (the farmer funded the project). (KX Net)

Washburn’s Juan Vadell Jr. has figured out how to tap into boxelder trees in order to make a unique blend of syrup. (KX Net)

Grand Forks’ Beck Thompson has a dozen-piece fashion line debuting at MartinPatrick3 in Minneapolis. (Grand Forks Herald)

(Like Amanda Silverman Kosior and/or North Dakota Nice?  Check out this other story about Hockey Moms.)

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