To the editor:
Embarrassed and sad - I don't know how else to describe it.
Many of you are likely in the dark as to what has transpired in the last two weeks, but my 10-year-old and his teammates, nine boys and one girl, are brutally aware. On Saturday, Jan. 18, they played the Lake Placid Bombers in a youth hockey tournament in Saratoga. Let's just say that a couple of interesting calls got more than a little out of hand. Two of our coaches were thrown out of the game and actually threatened with arrest. Do I think they were perhaps overzealous? Yes, but you'll have that with two men who are passionate about the game, one of whom has more than 30 years of refereeing experience.
Is that what I'm embarrassed about? Hmmm ... they weren't yelling AT our kids but FOR our kids and in defense of fair play. Even in my brief years of being a hockey mom, I have noticed that calls can be more than a bit subjective. So, enough on that issue, please feel free to follow this link for complete video footage of the game, and you be the judge. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=27MvUNYFrSE&feature=youtu.be) Embarrassed? More on that later.
It's what has followed since that I find infinitely more disturbing. Our coach was contacted via email to inform him that our team was no longer invited to the Lake Placid International Invitational Hockey Tournament, to be held Feb. 27 to March 2. It cited profanity by our fans (which I will admit that I may have missed, sitting at the opposite end of the stands) and their players' "fear" of playing us in the championship game on Sunday, Jan. 19. I wonder how many of the Bombers' players were crying on the bench after a 20-something referee with his newly minted card threatened to arrest the fathers of two 10-year-old boys who were within earshot? One of our assistant coaches did an amazing job composing two-thirds of the team to get them back on the ice. What transpired next was a testament to the resiliency of our kids as they played the cleanest game they could muster knowing that the referees' opinions were set against them. Fortunately, you can't argue with a puck in the back of the net times nine.
I'm deeply sad for them because they deserve to play. My son has been looking forward to it ever since he heard that he would playing in Lake Placid, where our family helped build some of the Olympic venues for the 1980 Games - family that were looking forward to joining us for the tournament. That's right: I grew up in the North Country, about 30 miles from Lake Placid, and have attended more events in the Olympic Arena than I could count.
That's where the embarrassment really comes in. I am embarrassed to admit that fact to the parents on our team because the conduct of Lake Placid Youth Hockey has been so narrow minded and unlike the manner in which I was raised. They could have conducted themselves differently. They could have made a phone call, had an adult conversation, put forth some stipulations to allow our kids their little moment in history. I suspect the tournament outcome would have been the same, and that's the heart of the problem.
Which leads me to ask the question: Would it have gone this far, would I be writing this letter if the Saratoga outcome had been different?
Former North Country girl and Valley hockey mom