Posted: March 10, 2011 by JP in HOCKEY TALK

Being two years apart we were never able to play youth hockey together. As I moved on to the next age group he would move up to the team I was just on. Even though our youth hockey experience was much different, we still ended up with the same passion. On our youth hockey teams we made lifelong friends. I keep in contact with some of those teammates but life has a funny way of moving forward and people move on with their lives. Keeping in touch with those teammates and friends is not always possible. I wish I did a better job and it might be one thing I can work on. I will say that our paths do cross from time to time and it feels like we were never apart. I believe that is a true test of friendship. I can still see us laughing in hotel rooms, playing floor hockey, and winning the squirt A state championship against Littleton (a double elimination tournament where we won two straight games against the best team in the state.. oh yea.. forgot to mention each of us rotated at goalie and everyone who attended try-outs made the team that was typical of all our teams from the town of Vail). Most of those guys have gone on to become successful and they are all great people and hold a special place in our hearts.  Separate teams and separate schedules may have been good for us but my parents probably think differently. Having two schedules must have been a bear. They were at the rink 3+ hours every night. They spent countless hours trucking us across the country for tournaments, games, and summer camps. They are truly the reason Mikey and I have had any hope what so ever.  Probably just the thought of being on the same team would have made them go through the roof with excitement!

The first time we played together on an organized team was at Northwood School in Lake Placid, NY. Leaving Vail, our home town we had grown to love, was one of the hardest decisions we ever had to make. This was especially true for our parents. We had few options and if we were really serious about hockey a decision had to be made. Northwood School it was. Mikey at the age of 14 and I at 16 made the trek Northeast. Unbeknownst to us, this would not be the last trip to the North Country together. Leaving home and starting a new adventure  far from the comfortable rocky mountains really makes you grow up quick. We had some amazing teachers, coaches and faculty for support but nothing compares to having one of your own with you. You always have an ally. Someone you know will always be there and have your back no matter what. That was my first realization that we really had something special. Going to Northwood School  in upstate New York we were finally starting a journey together.

Our paths crossed two years later. This time in Waterloo, Iowa of all places. Let me tell you, we had one hell of a time in that town. Thinking that this might be the last time we would ever hit the ice together our dad decided to move out. He would join the two of us and rent a two bedroom apartment.  My mom being super supportive actually let it happen. She would hold the fort down back home and regularly visit us. Let’s keep in mind that my mom skies religiously. Skiing over 100 days annually the mountain is her sanctuary. Let’s also keep in mind that my dad was now retired. He had worked his way from the bottom in 1962 as a ski slope groomer (before the use of snow cats they hired people to side slip trials… a long, hard and tedious job) to the top in 2005 as a Chief Operating Officer of Vail, Beaver Creek, Arrowhead, Keystone, and Breckinridge (btw… I think that job is now run by about 5 separate people but if I’m wrong someone can reply and correct me). It is now one of the most recognized ski areas in the world! And he was one of the core contributors and deserves a lot of recognition for what he was able to accomplish. Now he had transformed, rightfully so, into a diehard hunter, fisherman , and ultimate outdoorsman.  My mom and dad were giving up a lot. They were leaving this all behind to become our hockey support system. Now, I say this because at 7:00am Mikey had to rise for school. He would walk downstairs half awake to my dad in the kitchen, ” the short order cook,” as we called him. Always full of energy dad would have an array of, better than restaurant style, omelets, toast, oatmeal, sausage, and pancakes. These items were available everyday and I tribute my brothers Greek God physique to it. Although healthy eating was not a big concern at the time I think it planted a seed into our heads about the importance of breakfast and starting the day out with the right fuel. Having our dad there was special and created a very strong  bond that the three of us still have. We all talk about the good times and crazy experiences that we had in Waterloo. It brings grins to all of our faces. Although we still do many cool things together, I think the three of us in Waterloo for that season really toped the cake.  I mean seriously who does that!

It wouldn’t be until 6 years later that the brotherhood would be reunited once more. It may sound a little bravehartish  but I really do think it is appropriate. We were in the Adirondacks once again where our journey started 10 years ago. The brotherhood had come a full circle. Being best friends and teammates is one thing but best friends, teammates and brothers is something incomprehensible. Not a day goes by that we don’t appreciate how cool this opportunity really is.

  1. kimyshnl says:

    …and these are the reasons i find myself sometimes wishing i wasn’t an only child.
    Isn’t it amazing that the older we get the more we look back at our lives and realize how much our parents give up for us? I know I’m just glad that I’ve had the had the chance to realize it before it was too late to convey that thankfulness to them, and it seems you both feel that way too.

  2. Ladyneat says:

    I think that is awesome that your Dad was able to come out and support you. Sounds like he is doing so again currently too. Fabulous. Enjoy it you guys are very lucky to have all that and together.

  3. wadnoid says:

    Wow!! Your parents must have sacrificed a lot to make you guys so successful. I live really close to Lake Placid, so I know what a great time you must have had there. Beautiful area to hike, canoe, etc.

    Can’t wait to see you playing in Philly someday.

  4. Duncan says:

    Yeah but his chicken parm was the specialty though man.

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