Sunday, 24 February 2013

Most Valuable Dad - by Madison Sands

When I was little I wasn’t the typical “let’s play Barbies and then have a tea party” kind of girl. I had short messy hair, rode a two wheeler up and down the street, and was often mistaken as “Oh, what a cute little boy!” As kids, our mom and dad always had me and my brother and sister in all kinds of sports…track, cross country, soccer, ball hockey, rugby etc.

When I was 3, my mom put me in summer dance, but that only lasted about two weeks after she realized the only reason I went was because McDonalds was right beside the dance studio. A few years later, my parents put me in speed skating. But after refusing to wear those stupid tights, they wouldn’t allow me to compete. It wasn’t until I was eight years old when my dad came home and told me he finally signed me up for ice hockey.
My dad has always been a big part of my hockey career, and he is the main reason I got to where I am today. He would specifically work the night shift so he wouldn’t miss a game. He was my number one critic, and if I sucked, oh, I’d hear about it. Even though he wasn’t on the bench coaching, his opinion was most important to me. He was always hard on me, but I knew that it was only to help me get better. For example, when my dad picked me up from elementary school, he’d make me run laps at the high school track while waiting for my siblings to be dismissed. Or days when I was sick and had a game, he would toss me a bottle of Tylenol and say “take this and let’s go!” as I’d be throwing up in a bag on the drive there.

Most parents brag about their kid’s with their report cards, or honor roll list. My dad would pull out my stats and show them my point total. He’d show up to my class and tell the teacher I had an “appointment” and take me to the rink for stick and puck to prepare me for the big game I had that night. And every year at parent teacher interview when the teacher was explaining to him the things I needed to work on, his response was “Yah, but have you seen her slap shot?” 
At tournaments he was the first to jump on the hotel bed, start a towel fight in the pool, and everyone knew when Mike Sands was picking MVP (Most Valuable Player) for the opposing team. It wasn’t the star of the game who got it, but the one who tried the hardest.

He is not your typical dad, he is more like a friend. From day one he was always there. He taught me how to hold a stick, tie my skates and even throw a punch. And his motto, which I am sure my brother, sister and I will pass on to our children, was “If you aren’t practicing, someone else is and when they meet you they will beat you!”
This past September I left home for university to play the sport I love. It was very difficult at first because I left behind the man that I love suffering with something I’m not able to help him with…and he was always there to help me. But reminiscing helped me realise that it’s what he always loved watching me do, and what he was preparing me to do for all these years.

                           Madison - 8 years old playing for the Ridge Meadows Barracudas
                     Madison - 18 years old playing for Mount Royal Cougars in Calgary Alberta
                             Mike, Molly and Madison cheering for the Vancouver Canucks
                                  Cheering for Madison and her team this season at UBC
Mike watching Madison and Nathan play a game of scrimmage with their friends this past Christmas break at Pitt Meadows Rink - with Leah

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