The momentum had shifted.
Midway through the second period the Wings were up 2-0 over the toughest competition in the tournament. The boys settled into their game after reacting for much of the first period.
Down in the offensive end, they were keeping the pressure on New York’s defense. The puck poked between ten pairs of skates. Sticks tipped it under and through until it popped out to the point.
He was open. Stick raised behind him, he swung through the puck.
It flew, just below shoulder height, through defenders and teammates alike and found the back of the net.
For a moment, time stopped.
Then he was surrounded by teammates. The four of them nearly lifted him off his feet in their celebration.
A minute later the buzzer sounded and both teams returned to their benches. Once again he was surrounded, this time by the whole team. Arms reached over the group to pat his helmet. Bump his shoulder. Bring him in.
All goals feel good. Tournament goals are especially exciting. But this one was intoxicating. Q’s season ended last week.
When his 14U team was knocked out of their state tournament in the playoff rounds, another coach invited him to play…for his brother’s 18U team.
This was Q’s first weekend of games with boys who shave and drive. They could have ignored him as a newcomer, a middle schooler, a kid. Instead they brought him in.
Yesterday after the first game Q shared his favorite part of the night. “I was saying to Drew, ‘I really appreciate playing on your team.’ But Mom, Donny came over and bumped my shoulder. He said, ‘Nah, it’s our team.'” Both Donny and Drew have already graduated high school.
Isn’t this what we want for them?
It isn’t the extra ice time. It isn’t even seeing him playing alongside his brother for the first time (although that was something special, too). It’s watching our children stretching themselves to try something that challenges them. Seeing them work through struggles. Glimpsing their success. And most of all, witnessing the joy that comes from acceptance.