This weekend, the Smokies will celebrate family with the annual Parents Weekend. For players, it’s a chance to visit, and play in front of family and friends, while for parents, the weekend marks an opportunity to discover what Trail, and the Smoke Eaters, have to offer.
Typically, the annual event is scheduled on a weekend with two Smoke Eater home games, and this year’s schedule offers a pair of tantalizing fixtures against Salmon Arm (Friday) and the Coastal Conference-leading Powell River Kings Sunday afternoon.
The team (and the tireless volunteers from the Spud Shack) usually host a banquet following one of the games for players, coaches, parents and billet families to meet, greet and touch base.
It’s also a nice touch that the weekend includes an off-day Saturday. Hockey certainly becomes a grind as the season progresses, and for the players and their families to enjoy a day together away from the rink has to be good for overall health and well-being.
We all know players are driven, motivated individuals, but they’re also transitioning into life as young adults, and the family day offers them a chance to step away from the stress of competing for a playoff berth and enjoy the comfort of loved ones.
For a broadcaster, it’s an opportunity to learn more about the players I watch each and every week, too. And while geography can certainly dictate how many trips to Trail an out-of-town parent can make over the course of the season, Smoke Eater parents have been gracious enough to welcome our crew into their living rooms and computer screens for years.
Some parents are certainly more conversational than others (my pre-game routine last season included a brief chat during the pre-game warmup with one father who attended most of the Smokies’ games, home and away).
It doesn’t take much time at all to realize just how proud of their sons the Smoke Eaters’ parents are, and Trail fans should take pride in the fact that these players have chosen our community to chase their life-long dreams.
Junior hockey provides life-long bonds for players, and while the daily camaraderie on the ice, on the bus and in the dressing room goes a long way toward relationship-building, so do events like these.
Kudos to the Smokies, and junior hockey teams around both this league and in other circuits, for promoting family and togetherness.
So this weekend, if you see somebody in the stands who looks like a parent, say hello and shake their hand. After all, without their dedication (and the dedication of hundreds of other parents across the BCHL), we wouldn’t have a chance to enjoy the best Junior “A” hockey league in Canada.