Getting The Call

In the parlance of big-time hockey, "getting the call" is a rich term. A player gets the call up to the big team. It is the public reward for years of hard, quiet work. It's the call up to the big league, the big time. A player can "get the call" to represent his or her country in international play. Or a player "gets the call" to the hall of fame.

Invariably, a young player or a rehabilitated player or an unorthodox talent is pictured "still waiting for the call."

Getting the call means a player goes from the many on the outside to the few on the inside. 

Mitch and James rinkside today
But getting the call can happen for the rest of us hockey players, too.

"Guys, thanks for thinking of me and giving me a call," said Rick, as we sat over lunch today at Campus Earl's, the Oilers-Wings game on the monitors above us, Saturday's first of three games in the University of Alberta's pond hockey tournament behind us. 

When I heard about the 3-on-3 tournament a few weeks ago, I gave Mitch a call, and we called James and Kelly and Rick and everyone said yes and we put our team, the Sons of Mitches, together. Actually, putting out those calls has gone online social, but the mechanism of call and enthusiastic response 

    Glenn Kubish

is the same. 

Mitch on the shovel
I have played hockey with Mitch off and on since we were in Grade 2. He is our small hockey community's call-maker, putting out calls to make up oldtimer teams for trips to Vegas or Kelowna or Whistler, calls to gauge interest in this or that hockey scheme, calls to fill out a team for a game at NAIT or Namao or Clare Drake, calls to get the money to put it all in motion.

And here's the thing. When a parent enrols a child in minor hockey and pours money and time into the endless (it seems) meetings, practices, tournaments, hockey schools, power skating classes and all the rest, (including spending time with some of the wackiest parents out there), there are bigger ends that can pull that parent through. And it's not just watching the young hockey player learn the game and make friends and accept teamwork and learn how to win and lose.

It's really about equipping the minor hockey player to take the call years later. When a 3-on-3 tournament pops up, or there's a way to get to Vegas to play hockey together. Or, at a new job or in a new city, someone calls and asks if you've got skates and if you want to play. And you can say yes.

Because there are more of those calls than the big calls being made.

"C'mon, Mikey, answer the phone," I said after today's first pond hockey game. I was calling home to see if our youngest son would lace 'em up and sub in for James, who needed some emergency dental care and would miss the afternoon games.

"Hey, Dad," Mike said. "What's up?"

Mikey, left, answers the call from the oldtimers

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