Hockey’s Influence on Whitney’s Life
I fell in love with hockey watching the 1980 Miracle on Ice on our living room television. I have always loved watching the Olympics, I still love watching. There are so many amazing stories of athleticism and incredible stories of the underdog who comes to compete on the highest level. My dad purchased an “I Believe in Miracles” shirt, which I borrowed to wear my USA Hockey pride to school.
That same year, I saw my first hockey game in person, it took my breath away. I thought, wow, this is the coolest sport. Luckily, at the Washington Capitals game that night, it was stick night for kids. We went home with 3 sticks and played street hockey until we wore those sticks out. There wasn’t a whole lot of youth hockey in Maryland at the time and definitely not for girls. I had my own sports I loved, some I was pretty good at. The sports I stuck with in high school were softball and swimming.
How do we get back to hockey, I was working for my father at Quiet Waters Park Ice Rink. He hired me and told me I could earn my way to rink manager. He wanted to be sure I could handle the physicality of the job and the crowds. I’m pleased to say I rose to the demands and as far as we know became the first woman Zamboni driver in Anne Arundel County. I saw an ad for a Women’s Hockey team in the area and borrowed my brother’s gear to give it a go. I fell right as I stepped on the ice, embarrassed but realizing it didn’t hurt. I took off from there and joined the team. I wasn’t very good but I loved the thrill of the cool wind that billows through your jersey, the smell of the ice, and the camaraderie of the team. Our team wanted to get better and started searching for coaches that could help us get better. This is where Brian skates in. He helped coach our team and eventually, we ended up playing for the same Adult League team.
Brian was good, having played through college and I was terrible but having a blast. We made good line mates as Brian could set up the pass, I miss it and he could skate around and pass it back before anyone else on either team got the puck. We were good teammates and eventually started dating. Only 2 weeks after we started dating Brian was missing from the game, his father, Gene had passed away in a terrible car accident. When Brian returned to the ice, we talked about his loss. I remember the night after the game, I don’t remember the score, but I do remember a bunch of us lying on the ice, with only the emergency lighting and talking about Brian’s dad. This is where I took in the smell of the ice and started to know hockey would envelop my life.
We got engaged at the same place we met, six months after we met, and were married a year later. We had our wedding reception, packed our bags, and were on our way to travel the country because Brian had accepted a 100% travel job. Originally, Brian had no plans to continue his father’s hockey tournaments but, he received requests from the hockey teams, ice rinks, and hotels to continue the tournaments his dad hosted. He needed help with filling the tournaments and going through his father’s contacts and I stepped in to help. There were notebooks and scraps of paper with names and phone numbers. I called every one
of those numbers. It was the most amazing way to get to know Gene, through these folks’ stories about him. Some of the hockey people I called hadn’t been a part of youth hockey in years but were happy to share stories of Gene. The hockey community is especially close-knit.
Not long after the hockey tournament journey began I became a hockey mom. Our son, Dylan had hockey sticks pretty much since birth. Here he is with my hockey stick. He started in learn-to-skate around 5 and played hockey through college.It was an amazing thrill to be a hockey mom from 8U through college. The hits get bigger, the fun gets trampled with competitiveness and politics try to get the best of us. We’ve seen a hockey boy become a man and we always take it back to Gene’s hockey philosophy of hockey should be fun and we had a lot of fun!
Over the 30 years of being a part of Showdown Tournaments, I have seen many changes and feel the excitement of watching your kids play this awesome game. I bring my years of customer service and commitment of providing the best experience to each of our hockey events. It’s an experience and we love our incredible hockey family.