I was excited when our Media Editor Tim Jagielo told me he was going to cover the opening day of the Flint-Inner City Youth Hockey Program in Flint earlier this month. Flint is out of our local coverage area, but when Tim mentioned hockey I was all for it.
I will forever consider myself a hockey mom. There is just something special about hockey. Maybe it’s sitting on freezing cold bleachers for hours while you watch your son or daughter practice with their team. Maybe it’s the weekend trips across Michigan and the Midwest just to watch your son or daughter play a game that they love.
I think it’s wonderful what Rico Phillips and the others involved are doing for these youngsters in Flint. It appears that not as many kids sign up to play hockey, possibly due to the costs, which can be shocking. Just to rent a sheet of ice at a rink for an hour can cause sticker shock. Add to that the cost of good hockey skates, helmet, and all the other equipment required under a uniform can be cost prohibitive for many people.
When our boys were younger and playing travel hockey at Iceland Arenas in Flint, my husband and I used to work concessions at The Palace and DTE Music Theatre to offset our costs.
Our oldest son, Brad, played travel hockey at Iceland, however, that all ended when he died at the age of 12 in 2000. His framed photos continue to hang on the wall leading into the red rink at Iceland.
Following his death, my husband and I, and several close family members and friends hosted the Brad Stone Fall Classic, a weekend hockey tournament. We did that for several years. Brad’s younger brother, Jake, and his own ’95 AAA travel team, played in that tournament several times. I remember one year, there were so many ’95 (1995 birth year) teams that we had to give them their own weekend. The rest of the tourney was played the following weekend.
Those tournaments will forever tug at our heart strings. Not only did we raise money to be given out as college scholarships in Brad’s memory to other kids who played hockey at Iceland, we met so many families and players who expressed their hopes and dreams of being the next Steve Yzerman or Gordie Howe.
Teams and their extended families traveled from as far away as California, New York, Toronto, Ohio and Illinois. I’m certain the hotels and restaurants surrounding the Flint area noticed the increased business.
The best part of those weekends was when I could sneak a few minutes to go watch one of the games. The kids skated so hard and tried their best to do what their coaches told them to do. As they skated off the ice, you could see their bright red cheeks, runny noses and hear them catching their breath. Like any other hockey mom, I think I can still smell them, too.
I wish Rico and the Flint-Inner City Youth Hockey Program all the best.
Sharon Stone is the editor of the Tri-County Times. To contact her, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (810) 433-6786.