Skating with the Providence Bruins
As an avid Bruins fan, I've been attending Providence games for 20 years now. I've been a partial season ticket holder for the last decade and as a perk, have gotten to take part in their yearly skate-with-the-players party held on the Dunkin' Donuts Center ice. I once again took in this event with a couple of good friends of mine.
While I've been fortunate enough to skate with and meet several current NHL'ers (including Bruins mainstays like Tuukka Rask, Brad Marchand, David Krejci amongst many others), the event has changed for me. When I first started attending the event in 2006, I was still a late teenager and was a bit in awe that I was standing on the same ice as the players I admired and kept up with on a nightly basis. I would attend with my girlfriend at the time and we would both fan-girl over our favorite players.
As I aged into my mid twenties and moved on from that relationship, the event lost some of it's magic and I was shifing my focus from one passion (hockey) to another (photography and art). The skate was no longer about meeting athletes that I looked up to, but was still fun no less to see the players under a relaxed circumstance. There's something about getting to be older than the players you're watching that makes those encounters lose a little bit of luster. I don't really seek autographs anymore, but it is still fun to strike up a little candid conversation with these guys and get a taste of their true personality.
Now, as I've entered my 30s, the event continues to take shape and new meaning. Over the last handful of years, I've continued to take in games on a consistent basis with a good friend of mine. His young son, Nathan (4 years old), is a hockey fan/player in the early stages, but you can see/feel his love for being around hockey every time he comes to the rink to take in a game.
He is only just learning to skate, but his quiet enthusiasm and excitement is something I can relate to as I see reflections of my younger self within him. His love of everything hockey will only continue to grow and while he doesn't quite have the knowledge of the players yet, it's only a matter of time before that happens and he realizes he's in the presence of his future idols. While he's not my son, it's a neat feeling to feel like you're helping pass (or light) the torch for a youngster taking in his first experiences that he will carry with him for his life.
Yesterday, Nathan learned how to stand on the ice and literally take his first steps on his own. A small feat for most, it was a great accomplishment for him, with so many more to come.