I have a permanent smile today, tattooed to my face. Just try and take it away. I couldn't be more proud and impressed with this special group of kids. We've assembled a AAA hockey team to play in the North American Pepsi Cup hockey tournament for 5 years now. Our first year skating our kids had never played in a full ice game. They had very little concept of what "offsides" was or how to pass the puck to each other, let alone any idea of what the penalty box was like. We were blown out of the water by teams with a score of 21-0. It wasn't pretty. But each year we've improved. As their passion for the sport grew, so has their skill and development as players. After last year, we knew we could at least compete with the others.
So we were all excited for this weekend again to play in the Pepsi Cup. We had three practices as a team. Most of these kids play on 3 different teams throughout the year, but they are almost all born in the year 2000.
I fell asleep shortly before the start of the first game and arrived after out team was down 1 goal. But very quickly they mounted a comeback and the announcer was calling them something I couldn't quite comprehend. It seems that on the program they were called the M & M team, but they had been asked to be called "Team Vicky," in honor of me. It was the first of many surprises they had in store for us over the weekend.
Colton, Nolan and I.
Friday, after coming from behind, we won our first game. In between attending graduation parties on Saturday, we played two more games and won both of them, securing a place in the semi final game. If we won the morning game, we would go on to play in the championship game. Team Vicky persevered! We won our way into the championship game and faced a team we had played already form Grand Forks.
Here we are forming a cheer tunnel for our players. They were fired up and excited to play! A big trophy is on the line! Could this be our year? The year of the pink breast cancer ribbons emblazoned on their jersey's and helmets?
Parker with the puck...
Gavin with the puck...
Landon firing a rocket shot...
Kade with the puck...
Ethan with the puck...
Griffin with the puck...
Clay taking the puck... Clay's dad was in the hospital recovering from a tough gallbladder surgery. His mom videotaped the games and brought them to the hospital so his dad wouldn't have to miss seeing him play. Clay had at least a hat trick in most of the games and inspired most of us with his phenomenal play. A very wan and pale Craig arrived out of the hospital in time to see the team play in the championship. Clay did not disappoint... in fact none of the boys did.
Nolan with his pink taped stick and the puck... he managed one goal in the semi-final game.
Tommy scoring! We are now up 3-0, with Clay having scored twice already.
Carter, the other reason we won so many games, making a big save, which he did time after time for us. He was rock solid in the net and went on to shut out the other team 3-0 to win!
Team Vicky is the 2011 Pepsi Cup champion in the boys open 2000 division! Way to go Team Vicky!!
Notice who is asked to be in the photo? One proud momma and all "her boys" who demonstrated to her what courage and strength and fight is all about.
Team Vicky's locker room door!
Hoisting the big trophy and taking turns kissing it, just like it was the Stanley Cup...
The coaches, in the background, who were very humble, but are very deserving of our gratitude for leading the team to conduct themselves in a manner we were all proud of. Thank you coaches!
Speaking of courage, this one took a stick to the chin and was lucky that it only scraped him, but he went back in and continued to play. Most of our kids got pretty banged up at one time or another but they fought on.
Rootbeer floats afterwords on a beautifully sunny day.
Our youngest and biggest fan sporting his Vicky bracelet! Poor Andrew was such a trooper as he sat squinting away the sun so we could finally get a shot of his bracelet he wears so faithfully every day!
You'd think that was the end. Sunshine, rootbeer floats, and a Pepsi Cup Championship Trophy... could it get any better than this? Well yes... I was summoned to the locker room... it seems somehow, the person they had decided to designate for keeping the trophy... was me. I feebly tried to deflect a bit, truly wanting the boys to have a place where they can congregate and look at it whenever they want. But they were having none of it. Parker said "we did it for you!" They were selfless and generous and so full of heart I get a lump in my throat every time I see the trophy. Team Vicky is living proof that strong will, tenacity and all heart are what you need to conquer the major obstacles in life.
I came home exhausted. In need of a soak in the tub and some rest. As I crawled out of the shower I went to comb my hair. I watched as strand after strand tumbled from my head. I pulled again, and a clump came straight out of the side of my head. Its the beginning of the "thinning" of my hair and we'll see if I eventually lose it altogether.