Hockey...coffee and donuts...Kraft Dinner...bagged milk...maple syrup...Swiss Chalet...all Canadian items, eh.
Our four year old daughter is enrolled in the North York Knights Learn to Play program. Being a certain type of Canadian, she could skate by the time she was three - forwards, some backwards, and some stopping - so she was ready to enroll in hockey.
Every Saturday morning - no matter the weather; no matter her feelings on the subject; no matter whether we have colds; no matter that we might prefer to sleep in - we take her to the rink for an hour with a bunch of other four and five year olds so she can learn our national game. She puts on full hockey gear. She sits for a team photo. She listens to the numerous paid and volunteer coaches on the ice dedicated to teaching the game to beginners.
This happens throughout the country, in every community, in every town, no matter how large or small. We exhort and cheer and encourage. Sometimes we even yell. My little one feels special because she has her own water bottle and sometimes we fill it with Gatorade just like her siblings.
Being the absolute best at something requires passion, commitment, discipline, and a decent amount of insanity. When it comes to hockey, we Canadians have all that and more. Go to any minor hockey rink in town and it will be full of people...the players, the coaches, the parents, the grandparents, the siblings, the managers, the owners, the Zamboni drivers, the snack bar operators, the maintenance folks, the one ice trainers, the off ice trainers, a smattering of retired NHL players. All of them are at the rink in support of our national game.
My youngest child has joined the obsession. She will tell anyone who listens that she is a North York Knight. She loves to cheer "GO KNIGHTS GO" while banging her stick on the ice. Next in her hockey progression is finding her a team for next year...when she is the ripe old age of five.