FOULDS: Feeding wisdom to hungry Sharks
The life lessons learned on the ice and in the dressing room are those that have little to do with left-side locks, power plays or dump-and-chase strategies.
The lessons learned will, hopefully, be retained in the brains of these nine- and 10-year-olds, to be recalled a few years later when they can fully understand their meaning — and use them wisely, to be passed on to another generation.
They are the Sharks, a group of kids, boys and girls, who were cobbled together in October, amid skates, sticks, gloves and loud dressing-room music.
The assumed aim of this atom recreational season was to play the national winter game and get better as the months progressed, with the ultimate goal on ice being inclusion in the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association’s remarkable Night of Champions in March.
On that night, the top two teams in the atom, pee wee bantam and midget divisions square off for the Tournament Capital title.
This season, these Sharks progressed and progressed, fighting through the playoffs and reaching the Night of Champions.
At the end of 60 minutes, the Sharks had won the title, success from a season’s worth of coaching and listening and putting into practice that which had been repeated week after week.
But, the real championship was conveyed after the game — and throughout the season — through subtle and not-so-subtle nudging from Mark, Garnet and Cody, the Sharks’ coaching staff.
As the Sharks, sweaty and smiling and giddy from winning the big game, settled around the table in the arena, eyeing a plate full of cupcakes, they were given a lesson in life.
“There are two kinds of people in this world,” Mark told his youngsters.
“There are givers and takers. Believe me, you want to be in the first group.”
Mark then explained why it is good to be a giver, how to spot a taker — and the importance of becoming the former and avoiding the latter.
It is a lesson not normally associated with the national pastime, but it is an education more important than anything imparted within the blue lines.
However, it is also a lesson associated with the action within the blue lines and could be seen in each game involving the Sharks, with lines rolling onto and off the ice with mesmerizing regularity, the kids’ total ice time equal to one another to within a second.
On this team, each Shark was a giver.
As the season neared an end, the kids were asked to provide a sentence or word about each coach.
My son’s thoughts?
Mark: Honest; Garnet: Humble; Cody: Ambitious.
Honest, humble and ambitious — not a bad hat trick of virtues to carry a 10-year-old forward.