My 15-year-old son and I are just back from an away hockey tournament.  He’s played with this group of boys for a few years and they have all grown close.  They have been to this tournament a number of times, but always ended up with silver.  This year they wanted the gold.

There is something about the way team members rise to a challenge, hustle to make sure the momentum is going their way, cover for each other when the going gets tough.  So many life lessons are learned in a hockey rink.

A week before the tournament, our goalie got sick and couldn’t play.  Someone had to go in net for that game and my son volunteered even though he had never been in net in his life.  His team fought furiously to keep the puck out of our zone and although we lost, he made a few saves and his team mates all thanked him for putting himself out there.  Camaraderie at its finest.

This weekend all our games were full of hustle and heart.  We were behind and tied a few times but in the end, we were victorious.  After our fifth game we brought the gold medal home.

As these boys continue to grow into young men, they will remember the swims in the hotel pool, being gathered around a video game console, and cheering each other on from the rink bench.  They have learned to win and lose with grace, to have grit and to always play the puck right down to the final buzzer.  To never give up.  As if each shift on the ice is the only shift they will ever play.  They learned that what coach Joe Paterno said was true, “It’s the name on the front of the jersey that matters most, not the one on the back.”  The team comes first.  It’s a great way to live your life and we are thankful that we found these lessons on our hockey journey.