Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Hockey Life: Sidelined -- again

In case you haven't noticed or heard yet, Colin's fall-winter travel hockey season came to an unfortunate close a week ago, when he fractured a bone in his right ankle during a tournament game in Brandon with the Tampa Bay Jr. Lightning. He got hurt going hard around a net, helping out on defense, and his right leg buckled outward.

I'd been recording his shifts lately on video, at the suggestion of a friend in Canada, so I caught the whole thing. It wasn't pretty at all. To his credit, he tried getting up not one, but three times, before he knew something was wrong.

Thankfully, it wasn't a serious break. In watching the video, especially frame by frame, I was surprised it wasn't worse. We'll just leave it at that, OK? He'll be in a cast for four weeks.

I'll be the first to admit I took it pretty hard. No one wants to see their child get hurt or be in pain. Watching him try to get up and falling back down struck a nerve. So did when he looked at me after his second attempt. That's when I knew something was wrong, as he has always gotten back up, even after a hard hit.

Last year, about this time, in a season darkened by repeated instances of bullying, Colin got rocked by his Brandon Jr. Bulls team captain in the final practice before the state tournament. The hit, which the kid's father (a lawyer, by the way) claims was an accident, broke one of Colin's collarbones. We didn't know that, though, until the next day, as Colin finished that night's practice.

This injury, however, was different. He was hurt in a game, working hard and it just happened. It wasn't a cheap shot. I've also pushed Colin to go hard, not just in hockey, but in school and life. I worry now that I've pushed him too hard. And I continue to wrestle with the guilt.

I've told him a couple of times since last Sunday afternoon, after we left the hospital emergency room, that he could walk away from hockey. After broken bones ended back-to-back seasons, who could blame him? Not me. His response? He told me I was crazy for even bringing it up. I will never again question his resiliency and toughness.

In many ways, Colin has handled this far better than I have.

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