What Happens in Jamestown Absolutely Doesn’t Stay in Jamestown

Jack and I got back from his hockey tournament in Jamestown, New York, on Sunday. We had an amazing time. Sadly, there was no wi-fi in my room, so I could only check email and try to write posts and stuff when Jack went swimming in the hotel pool with the free lobby-area wi-fi.

jean at the pool

I assume that if you are looking at photos of your child in the pool in front of you, that is almost as good as actually looking at your child in the pool in front of you, right?

Fortunately, Jack likes to swim. I’m going to give a conservative estimate of four to five hours spent in that pool over the weekend.

Jack in pool

Like this, only with 75 other small hockey players and a whole lot of splashing and some outraged yelling by Jack of, “My eyes! My eyes! I’m telling on you!”

The wi-fi situation was actually quite vexing, what with THE MAGIC OF SPECIAL HOCKEY but no ability to blog about it in the evening when I had time. The silver lining, of course, is that I got a tremendous amount of sleep.

Exciting as my sleep habits are to you, no doubt, let’s be honest, the reason you came here is to hear about hockey. We headed up on the team bus on Thursday afternoon, which was perfect because Jack had a math test that morning and he didn’t have to miss it. He might not agree with my assessment of the situation as “perfect,” however.

Alex was out of town on Thursday as well, which proved troubling, considering everyone comes from different schools on different bus routes at different times. Four separate groups of people stepped up to help us out and make sure that Quinn and Sam were safe and supervised on Thursday and Friday.

Some of those people went really above and beyond, having to babysit far longer than originally planned, due to a babysitter no-show and a late flight. For those of you who helped us out and who read here, I want to make sure you know how thankful we are to each of you for getting my kiddos home safe and then keeping them supervised so that Jack and I could take the bus. You are all part of the THE MAGIC OF SPECIAL HOCKEY. Thank you.

Before the first game.

Before the first game.

Jack played four games on Friday and Saturday. He did really well. I am not a big “you have to kick ass at sports!” kind of mom. I’m more of a “good for you, sweetie, for trying your hardest” kind of mom. Regardless, at this tournament I tried to put just a leeeeetle pressure on him to step it up a bit and pretend that he was skating in a hockey game instead of on a leisurely afternoon glide with his pals.

I encouraged (and by “encouraged,” read “bribed”) Jack to follow the puck and to go to the net and otherwise play as if hockey were a team sport. And he did. He managed to get some puck time this tournament and even stopped the puck with his stick—when the puck was moving. That’s real hockey, right there.

Opening face-off

He even got to do the very first face-off of the tournament, although I think that had more to do with pushiness on his part than earning the privilege.

He did such a good job. I am so proud of that kid. He played hard for the most part in all of his games with minimal complaining.

Jack and clock

Except for, you know, the stretch of time he spent ignoring the game going on behind him to inspect the game clock.

I am always blown away by my kid at these things. He is a total rock star. And you know what? Every single other kid that went to that tournament is too. It is phenomenal to see them rise to the challenge and energy of tournament play. Each of those players went out there and skated at the top of his (or her) current ability. At the risk of sounding like a total dork, it was really, really neat to watch.

And not for nothing, watching those same teammates play together in the swimming pool? I think that is pretty amazing too. The togetherness of the team and they way these kids get to know each other is almost as good as the hockey at the tournament. You remember…your baby is my baby.

Friday nights festivities were awesome, what with a pizza (and beer, oh thank the good lord, someone brought beer) party at the hotel. It was even the birthday of one of the players so there was cake. Also there were announcements, preceded by pre-announcements.

But beer and pizza and cake weren’t the end of it, no sir. The whole team had tickets to go see the local team, the Jamestown Ironmen, play an actual real game of hockey. And guess who was there?

The Ironman.

The Jamestown Ironman

He’s a little creepy, but that’s okay.

Jack and I left after two periods, but by all reports, this was a great game with a great overtime finish, in which the Ironmen skated to victory. It was, however, a little bit jarring to go from THE MAGIC OF SPECIAL HOCKEY to the IMMA KILL YOU OF SMALL TOWN HOCKEY, also known as THE MAGIC OF FISTICUFFS.

There was a lot of brawling. In my head, I was like, “Man, these teams must really hate each other.” But then in the other part of my head, I was all, “Or maybe it’s for show, like in wrestling.” I still am not sure where I come down on this issue.

Naturally, the children loved the fistfighting.


I was curious about whether our players would start swinging fists the next day themselves. They did not.

After two periods, Jack’s ability to hang out at the rink was waning, so we took off, but not before we found the slushee machine. We watched it for a fairly good amount of time.

Oooooh, spinny!

There was a perfectly good hockey game going on behind him, but *this* is what held his attention.

Jack was pretty tired on Saturday morning, considering we woke up at 6:50 am and were at the rink at 7:15 for a 7:45 game. He was complaining that he’d strained his back (during his strenuous sleep activity, evidently), and he was pretty grumpy. During the game, he actually attempted to leave the ice at one point, but was encouraged to stick it out and he did. Hooray for everyone involved in that. You know who you are.

(If you’re wondering, his back was fine in very short order. I think he just had to warm up his muscles.)

Jack was actually very much a hero on Saturday, playing two games and fitting in two long swim sessions—as well as a solid chunk of iPad playing time.

The coach tried to convince him to be captain for either one of the two Saturday games, but Jack was having none of it. This was him at the morning game:

No Captain Jack for me, sir!

Jack’s attitude was all, “That sounds a lot like work that requires me to be upright and happy and I’m not willing to be either of those things.”

The great thing about Jack these days though, is that he managed to pull it together.

Upright Jack

See? Upright! Just like the hockey sticks!

Happy Jack

And happy too! Just like the hockey sticks!

After the last game, I updated Facebook to make a general statement about Jack’s awesomeness.


And by the time I showed it to him the next day, 42 of you had liked it.

The team went out to dinner on Saturday night (that Applebee’s will never be the same) and the word that kept coming to me in terms of the Cheetahs was “safe.” I’m pretty sure I’ve used this word before to describe the Cheetahs community, but that’s because it is so apt.

The Cheetahs create a space where these players can be safe, physically and emotionally, and their parents can be as well. Whether it is at a practice or a tournament or in the friendships between players or the friendships between the parents, this team is truly a magical, safe place.

Jack and I are very lucky to have the Cheetahs and we are very lucky to be able to go on tournaments. But we don’t do it by ourselves. We have the help of the team leadership and coaches. We have the help of the other players and their parents. We have the help of the parent volunteers who plan out every detail of the complicated puzzle of tournament trips. We have the help of the Cheetah mentors who come to practice each week to make sure our kids learn hockey skills.

We have the help of Alex, Quinn, and Sam, who are willing to let us disappear for days at a time. We have the help of friends, neighbors, and babysitters who watched Sam and Quinn so we could go. We have the help of Jack’s teacher, who was excited to hear about his trip. We have the help of every single one of you who donated to the Cheetah-thon last year.

And we have the help of you. Yes, YOU. Don’t look behind you, I’m talking to YOU. I feel your support here all the damn time, but I feel it especially strongly when it comes to the Cheetahs. Your support of Jack and his team feels visceral to me. We are never alone when he is on the ice because you are always there with us.

YOU are part of the magic of special hockey—and that isn’t any small thing. Your support fills my whole heart.

So thank you. From all of us.

Jack and Stimey

Thank you for being a part of THE MAGIC OF SPECIAL HOCKEY! We are both happy AND upright!

29 thoughts on “What Happens in Jamestown Absolutely Doesn’t Stay in Jamestown

  1. I love the magic of special hockey!
    That last picture put a little dust in my eye too…ahem…

  2. I can feel the magic…must be the magic dust that is making my eyes water right now. It is heartwarming to read about the awesome experiences you and Jack have with hockey.

    P.S. My son loves slushie machines, too. They are enthralling.

  3. Beautiful, as always. And as usual, a good cry, which is just what I needed first thing in the work day…Thanks!

    And lemme guess who so thoughtfully brought the beer… initials ST?

    • Anytime I can help smear mascara first thing, I’m happy to. :)

      And, of course it was ST. Who else? Tell him thanks. :)

  4. Left my reply in the wrong post. Anyway, here goes:

    Aww, I love this stuff. Congrats to Jack and the Cheetahs. BTW, the pictures of his helmet with JACK BAUER will never get old. Never.

  5. If you’re SHOWING him these status updates I’m really going to have to police my language a little better.

    Looks like a fun time was had by all. Including the hockey sticks.

    • 1. I usually only show him the main status and not the comments because I know that degenerates like you are likely to comment.

      2. The language is nothing new to him. Trust me. His mother is kind of a degenerate too.

      3. Thank you for liking my hockey sticks joke. I made myself laugh pretty hard over that.

  6. As we have entered into THE MAGIC OF SPECIAL HOCKEY this year I am loving this post! Now, what I really want to know is – Did you cry at all at? Because my guy has only had an opening day and 2 practices and I cried at every.single.one. When am I going to stop crying at these things?!

    • Yeah, there are a lot of happy tears for the first couple of years of special hockey. You have a long way to go. I actually did *not* cry this time, which was a first for me. I still don’t think I’m out of the woods though. THE MAGIC OF SPECIAL HOCKEY is emotionally turbulent.

  7. I love everything about this – everything. Jack, the cheetahs, the place of safety, and the gratitude for everything that makes something like that possible. Oh, and you – yeah, you’re all right too. xo

  8. Your post totally made me cry. I’m sitting here sniffling like a fool.

    It isn’t the hockey, although that’s awesome.
    It isn’t Jack either, even though he’s awesome too.

    It’s you.

    You are parenting your kids in the way every one of us wishes we had been parented as kids.

    You are helping those of us with kids (special needs or not) to love all that make our kids special, no matter how the rest of the world perceives them.

    To be loved just as you are and to have one’s quirks recognized, appreciated and celebrated, is just such an enormous gift.

  9. Yay what a great experience for you both! I would have been hard pressed to keep my mouth shut to the lady with the laptop. I was a lifeguard for many years and pulled way to many kids out of the water whose parents were convinced their child was an excellent swimmer.

    • Thanks, Corey! Although actually I am the lady with the laptop. *grins awkwardly* I hear what you’re saying and I definitely pay attention when kids are in water. We had a lot of eyes on the kids when they were in the pool. I promise.

  10. Hi there! First, this sounds like a great event. yay Jack.
    one Q: re ‘He even got to do the very first face-off of the tournament, although I think that had more to do with pushiness on his part than earning the privilege.’
    That sounds great! pushy or confident or whatever.
    However, in the face-off photo, why are the two other participants way taller than Jack? I hope they are coaches or something. :)
    Sorry for the typos if any. Im typing with a splint which is starting to irk me a lot. will go back to lower case letters all the time for te forseeable future.
    also in case you wondered, i’m the same karen g from b4. recently created a new gmail acct to use aside from my professional one. oddly the professional acct is the one receiving all the spam. grumble.
    kudos again to Jack and the Cheetahs.

    • No, the other participants are often much bigger. In special hockey, the teams are put together based on ability rather than age, so some teams are huge and some are small and some are a mix. We played some teams with some giant players this tournament. It’s actually pretty cool though.

      So sorry to hear about your splint! I hope you achieve typing fluency soon! :)

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