Hockey Families Revel In Their Pandemic Power Play


"Uncertain." "Unprecedented." 

How many times have we heard these words over the last several months?

There was lots of discovery when I reached out to my closest hockey mom friends for some pandemic soul searching. 

"I was stunned," hockey mom Jenn Thieben recalls. "Hockey never gets canceled."

Not only did hockey get canceled, but everything in our lives was put on hold, and the challenges seemed endless. Jenn's son had a tournament planned for Lake Placid, N.Y., and her daughter's college team had qualified for the NCAA tournament after a great season. The seniors on the college team were crushed, the boys dreamed of the opportunity to play in those historic venues. Oh, what could have been.

"We made it to the sweet spot of the year when the pandemic hit," recalls Shannon Nanne. "No time to say goodbye or celebrate the season that we grew together."

Shannon's kids weren't prepared for the series of disappointments either. Life as they knew it, stopped. No friends, no family, no church, no sports, no restaurants, nothing. A pause in life, like nothing any of us have ever seen.

But the sacrifices we made during the Coronavirus pandemic made us draw on the very lessons we have hoped for our kids to learn through sports; how to be resilient. We've discovered things about ourselves along the way.

"We miss hockey very much," Jackie Donegan says. "But we have enjoyed being able to do other things that the very long hockey season has prevented us from doing in the past."

Instead of being separated every weekend traveling to different places, the Donegan's spent weekends as they rarely do, as a family. 

So did Palma Filighera.

"We have eaten dinner together as a family every night, allowing us to laugh, discuss current events, even have respectful disagreements [okay, arguments]," Filighera says.

The time also provided an opportunity for her kids to learn how to deal with adversity. They found new ways and places to train with a basement-turned physical fitness/shooting area/gym and smart devices as trainers.

Jenn's schedule was suddenly wide open. It was the first time in 10-plus years they had nothing hockey related.

"There are truly devastating facts about this virus and its effects on our world as a whole, but it has really given us an opportunity to slow down and reflect on what is important. Hopefully, we learn that it is good to take well-deserved breaks," she says.

What do you do when the motor of the world as you know it grinds to a halt? Like these hockey families, you take what you've learned and take each twist and turn as they come. The roller coaster ride is not over yet, and we don't know what kind of unexpected turn may lie ahead. 

"As we get back to the ice and soccer fields this fall, I will make sure we still take the time to be the best family we can be and to support each other with an open mind and kind heart," Shannon says.

Hockey families will no doubt draw on the known qualities that have made us resilient. We've never seen experienced anything like it, and maybe, in some ways, we are stronger and better for it.




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