By Christopher Kerrigan, Boston College
Some people believe that a father and his children can strengthen their relationship by participating in sporting activities together. Based on my experiences while growing up, this theory is precisely accurate. Of course the love my father has for my older sister, my older brother, and me is equally deep; however, I feel as though the relationship I have with my father is very special. We not only love each other, but we also share a love for ice hockey.
My father has two primary passions in his life. The first passion is his family, and the second is hockey. He started playing hockey when he was eight years old. Since that time, he has not missed a single season. In other words, he has been playing hockey for forty-three consecutive years! Although he turns 51 years old this year, he still plays hockey twice every single week. Now that is a true love of hockey!
I also started playing hockey when I was eight years old. From the very first time I started playing the game, my father was my coach. On the one hand, he taught me how to play the game of hockey, and on the other, he taught me how to love the game. I had practice almost every Saturday and Sunday at six in the morning, and although my father was very busy, he was always willing to take me. We would wake up at four thirty in the morning, and neither of us would utter a word as we got in the car and rode to the ice rink. Neither of us enjoyed waking up that early, but our love for hockey was more profound. His love for hockey was greater than mine, but it seemed as though my passion for the game became more and more like his. I think travelling to the ice rink that early in the morning not only demonstrated our love for hockey, but it was also the embodiment of the profound relationship between father and son.
When I started high school, my father decided to purchase season tickets to the Boston Bruins. Because he bought the tickets, he started a new tradition for us. At least once a month we would attend a Bruins game together. During the Bruins games that we did not attend, we would sit in our living room and simultaneously chat while watching the game. At that time, watching Bruins games with my father was quite possibly my favorite weekend night activity. Luckily the Bruins played several games every single week!
Zdeno Chara hoists the Stanley Cup trophy after Boston’s Game 7 triumph over the Canucks (Elsa/Getty Images, June 2011).
After I went away to college, the relationship I had with my father somewhat changed. I not only no longer lived at home, but I also stopped playing hockey. I could no longer watch hockey games with him, and he could no longer take me to the hockey rink. Unless we found a new hockey-related activity that we both enjoyed, then it seemed as though our “hockey relationship” would come to an end.
Fortunately we found one. Now whenever I return home to see my parents, first I give my mother a warm embrace, then I place my luggage in my bedroom, and then my father and I go outside and play street hockey. Street hockey and ice hockey are very different. There is no ice involved in street hockey, and there is also no goal. We simply pass the puck back and forth between each other. Sometimes we talk while we play, and sometimes there is no need to talk. We both know this activity makes us both very happy, and because of this, we are able to continue cultivating our “hockey relationship.”
From my youth until now, the hockey relationship I have with my father has continuously changed. When I was young, we would go to the hockey rink together; when I was in high school, we would watch hockey games together; and now, we play street hockey together. Although the ways in which we express our love have changed, one truth still remains: hockey continuously brings my father and I closer together.