If you followed us on our Happy Loud Life journey last year, you might know that when we began to think about where we would settle after our 18+ month RV trip, we based a lot of that decision on how close we would be to a Texas junior ice hockey league.
It probably sounded a little ridiculous to some of you. We could go ANYWHERE, but we let this passion of our 10 year old largely dictate where we would end up- AND HE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO PLAY HOCKEY YET.
Oh yeah, so if you’re not familiar with the whole story, let me catch you up.
Kendall has grown up watching NHL games with his dad, who happens to be a lifelong St. Louis Blues fan. There was an ice hockey junior league program in Dallas when we lived there, but it wasn’t exactly close to home, and he never expressed enough of an interest in playing to make signing him up and driving him there worth it.
Instead, Kendall played baseball for 5 years (roughly 8 seasons with some fall ball), and he was good! When he was interested. Baseball was a tough fit for his personality at the time. None of us were super sad to take a couple years off of team sports while we traveled.
If you’re into NHL at all, you know the STL Blues won their first ever Stanley Cup this year. It was monumental, and a memory I know our kids will have forever.
Not only did they watch the wining game in our RV, but they watched (or listened to while we drove) every other game last season with Scott. Since we were all together for nearly every waking moment, these games became part of the fabric of our family, and soon after last season started, Kendall started proclaiming that he would play ice hockey when we moved back into a house. (And then he would go onto play for the NHL.)
Small issue? We were moving every 3 days to 3 weeks. Bigger issue? The kid had no idea how to even ICE SKATE, let alone play ice hockey. We kinda treated it like, “Cool. If it happens, it happens.” But he has forever been my child who will find a way to get what he wants- the perpetual squeaky wheel, the baby who never outgrew colic. The kid was born with buckets of grit and persistence.
When he found out we could go ice skating in NYC during our very short trip into the city, that was his moment. He latched on and made us promise we’d take him ice skating. So not even a year ago, he went ice skating for one of the first times in his life (the other times were quick skates when he was much younger) IN THE MIDDLE OF A SNOWSTORM in Bryant Park.
We trudged through the wet, falling snow with 4 kids for 30 minutes because there was no way he was giving up on this.
He got on the ice, happy as a puppy in a ball pit, and fell over and over and over while his hands froze and his cheeks froze, and I was convinced we’d end up in the ER. It didn’t look like the beginning of a successful road to a hockey team at the time, but that’s exactly what it was.
Over the following months, he insisted we take him to ice rinks around the country as we made our way south. When we were in Reston, Virginia for a few weeks (the city we lived when he was born), he went to the Reston Town Center ice rink nearly every night, and that’s where he finally started to get steady on his feet.
Cut to moving to the Austin area, after roller blading (and sometimes ice skating) every day for months.
We crossed a lot of southern and western suburbs and cities off our list because they would be too far from the 2 places he would be able to play ice hockey. We landed in Leander because, for now, it’s about a 20 minute drive down the toll road to the ice rink, and next year it will only be 5 minutes from the new sports complex with ice. (Okay, and also because it’s inexpensive and the schools are great, and there’s a Super HEB like right by our house, but hockey had a lot to do with the decision to land here.)
We barely eeked into our rental house in time to reach out to the Austin Metro Hockey Association about signing him up for this season. They asked about his previous experience- where had he played before, what lessons had he taken?
Um… none? None of any of that. We tried our best to explain that he was self-taught but so driven, and we would love for them to at least let him try out, which they agreed to, but I think we all sort of expected that to lead to a year of lessons and getting familiar with the sport.
Instead, this boy made his first Texas junior ice hockey team less than a year after proclaiming it to be so. Yeah, we helped him get there. We paid for ice time, bought him equipment, found rinks as we traveled, but ONLY because he was so damn persistent.
All the years I’ve struggled with his strong personality, his intense desire to get the things he wants, I’ve worried and wondered. I don’t want to raise a kid who refuses to take no for an answer when no is the right answer, you know? But, I am really damn proud he is putting those skills he began sharpening at 4 days old to use- the loud demands, and the determination to be heard.
It’s a wonderful fit. Hockey is great because, unlike baseball, he’s moving nearly non-stop. There’s no time to daydream, and he seems to thrive on the constant motion.
He had his first real game last weekend, and y’all? I think he’s pretty good! He certainly doesn’t look like a kid who just taught himself to ice skate out there.
I like to think/hope that when our kids saw us talk about something wild and what many people would think of as unattainable and scary- selling our house and traveling the country fulltime- that they were taking note. They saw us take action and actually DO this big, scary, amazing thing, and if nothing else comes from our time traveling, I will feel it was all worth it if they move through life DOING the big, scary, amazing things they dream up.
Does it take a ton of work? Is it totally exhausting? Do you risk people telling you no? YES. I hope they still do it anyway.
So yeah, Kendall made Texas junior ice hockey happen! So who am I to laugh at his NHL dreams? Although his entire first paycheck better come my way for dealing with colic… for so long.