They skate on to the ice, eager with anticipation, wide eyed, and hanging on every word from their coach. They try to make an impression in every drill, every skate down the ice. They are desperate to catch the coaches eye and impress with their effort and skill.
Such is the life of a young hockey player. They know they have to work hard to stand out. Their desire is palpable, and it shows in everything they are doing on the ice.
Such is camp.The next big step in what is hoped to be a long and productive hockey career.
The young men that I am talking about were not at the Predators development camp, although these characteristics applied to them. You can read about the participants in the development camp in the coverage from the local bloggers listed on the right of this blog.
No, I am talking the young men (and women) that are participating in the Predators hockey camp this week on the same ice that the Preds prospects skated on last week. Young hockey players of varying ages and skill levels.
I had an opportunity to watch some of the Predators hockey camp today. I took a special interest in what was going on because my young son was participating in the camp for the first time.
Watching the activities on the ice, I experienced the pride and the anxiety that every father and mother feel when they watch their child compete in the arena. I watched the every move of my son as he skated through drills with the instructors, focused on his effort, watching his technique, and, inevitably, comparing his effort to the others on the ice.
It dawned on me that the emotions that I feel for my 11 year old are no different than the emotions that a parent feels when they are watching their 18 or 20 or 30 year old compete and attempt to impress his coaches. The age and the skill level are different for the players on the ice, but the emotions as a parent are the same.
The joy on the face of my son today is what the game is about. He was excited to be on the ice. The game was fun.
By far and away, he wasn't the best player on the ice. His effort, though, was second to none. And the smile on his face was priceless.
Somewhere for the prospects at a higher level, the game transitions from fun to a business. Impress the coaches, move up the depth chart, and one day, hopefully make the big club.
I hope somewhere in the process for these prospects, there are still smiles, that there is still an element of excitement, anticipation, and fun.
Just like it is for my son.