I can’t say that I remember the first major sporting event I ever attended. My dad was never a big fan of such things, and when you grow up in Massachusetts, in the sixties and seventies, you don’t exactly have many major league teams to apply your pride. The New England Patriots weren’t good and going to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox was often downright painful.
I got into two sports: ice hockey and English soccer. With the former, we have the Bruins and the great Bobby Orr. For the latter, games aired on the local PBS station and I learned to enjoy them, thoroughly. I think what I loved best was the fact that the action rarely stopped. Hockey shared that attribute; a great deal of action and few breaks; my kind of game.
I guess it was inevitable that, despite living in Orlando, Florida, I’d start going to hockey games. That may sound strange, like a bobsled team from Jamaica, but we actually do have a team. My wife and I became quite the fans of our local team, the Solar Bears, and they’re actually good.
As of this writing, the Solar Bears made it into the playoffs. Well, recently, we were able to share our love of the sport with two little people in our lives. Our goddaughters, Jessica and Hayley, came to visit us during their spring break. We did all the usual fun things: we went to the movies, went out to eat, went to the pool and they even enjoyed using our gym. Granted, I had to lower the amount of weight on the machines when Jessica used them; they were able to handle one pound.
Then came Thursday night and the Solar Bears were in the playoffs. We took the Sunrail to the arena. That in and of itself was something new for my goddaughters, they’d never ridden a train before.
We headed into the arena. They were awe-struck by that, too. The huge open spaces, the dancers welcoming us, the actual rink impressed us, greatly. We got to our seats and saw the players practicing. The girls had never seen anything like it. When the game started, it took a few minutes for them to get the hang of it, the playing of hockey; they eventually got it.
They loved it! It was a very tight game, very exciting. The two teams were every evenly matched, so the score got to one to one and stayed there. During the intermissions, we indulged in many of the activities the arena had to offer. The new movie “Furious 7” was opening soon and the wax figure of Vin Diesel was on display. The girls got their picture taken next to it and then my wife sent it in a text to their mom, who didn’t realize it was a wax figure!
We had ice cream, a nice little boost of sugar for the evening, and the girls met Shades, the Solar Bears mascot. He’s a polar bear in sunglasses, hence the name. They found it quite exciting.
Ah, but the best excitement came in the third period. The score remained tied, the players raced up and down the rink, and little Jessica truly threw herself into the role of enthusiastic fan. She stood at the railing, bouncing up and down for at least five minutes, and shouted at the top of her lungs, “Go, Gummy Bears, go, Gummy Bears!”
My wife and I chuckled. The usher chuckled. The staff and other fans around us chuckled.
Yes, she was saying it wrong, but it didn’t matter. She was having fun and that’s what mattered. The game went to sudden death overtime, then a shoot-out.
To catch the train, we had to leave before the final score. We later learned the Bears lost. Yet, it wasn’t important. No, Hayley and Jessica got one incredible memory; a memory we shared with them and that’s what was truly important.
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Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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