Spring. It’s near. It’s here.
Since I was 4 ½ years old, this week has always meant the start of spring.
This is the week when scores are settled, rivals revenged, and teams triumph.
I can always gauge how fast my year is going by how fast this week sneaks up on me.
March seemed an infinite number of days away at Christmas gatherings in my grandma’s small, Canadian-bordering town when cousins would gather and talk about their season’s – not Season’s Greetings – hockey season’s.
A life-time after cookies were chomped and gifts given, March would find its way to Minnesota.
Phone calls were called.
Tickets were Ticket-Mastered (for writing’s sake, let’s say they were Ticket-Mastered, even though it’s not necessarily true…)
Arrangements were arranged.
Tournaments were turning points.
For as much as I know they molded and continue to shape the boys (and girls – but I’m strictly speaking from my experiences at boys’ tourneys here), who play for keeps, they were moments in my childhood that nothing else can top.
March 1990 – Moment #1
Pig-tailed and teeny-tiny, I sat in the St. Paul Civic Center next to my larger-than-life older cousins cheering on their hometown team to victory in the State Championship final game.
March 1995 – Moment #2
Pre-braces and sporting purple glasses twice the size of my teeny-tiny head, I once again sat in the old Civic Center next to family, cheering on Cousin “A” as he led his team to a State Championship win. Game-winning-goal and all.
Sprinkle in Moment’s 3, 4, and 5 (Minnesota connections galore) when Cousin “A,” then out of high school and playing with the big boys, spent some time in the regional and national spot lights.
March 1996 – Moments #3 and #4
Remember, I was pre-braces and purple spectacle cursed, I was at least privileged to continue to cheer on Cousin “A” in his hockey career.
Cousin “A” and his team proved they were the best when presented with the one and only, MacNaughton Cup.
After being MacNaughton’d, they fought their way through the Frozen Four, only to lose in a nail-biting OT. A game I watched in the comfort of my home while my parents were forced to play host to new-to-town/state-friends. Antsy all through lunch, I sat trying to mind my manners while these intruders asked questions and vied for my precious time. Un-rudely I excused myself from the table and parked right in front of the television. Wishing I was there to scream and yell and jump around, I pulled off a boisterous one-man cheering section loud enough to make my parents jealous they were still lunch-hosting.
March 1997 – Moment #5
Attempting to American Eagle Outfitter my way out of “kid” clothes, I viewed Cousin “A’s” team’s National Championship appearance repeat in my basement. Thankfully no lunch guests were present. Though not fortunate enough to make it as far as Moment #4, it was still beyond exciting. Most likely I wore black the following week. A different black from Moment #5 though.
March 1998 – Moment #6
Somewhat exiting my awkward stage, I sat in the Civic Center next to Cousin “X” and “Y,” kind enough to let me tag along, laughing when Cousin “X” unknowingly spit on the evil-neighboring-town’s head coach’s head while watching Cousin “B’s” team sadly lose in the Semis. No doubt the first time Cousin “Z’s” friend and I were actually upset with the outcome of a game, both aligned on the same side, a rarity among rarities.
March 1999 – Moment #7
Finally out of my super obvious ugly duckling years, thousands of dollars after orthodontia, I sat in the Target Center watching Cousin “B’s” team win their way to the Championship game where they successfully shut down and shut out their opponent, nine years after their school’s last State win in Moment #1.
Moment #7 was the Tourney when Cousin “Z” informed the cheerleaders, rooting for her brother’s team, to get with the program and stop using overly annoying cheers and go straight for the hard stuff. The stuff fans actually knew how to cheer along with. I’d like to think Cousin “Z” indirectly aided Cousin “B’s” team to victory that year due to her insistence on quality cheers.
Many other moments in March have come and gone. None like the magnificent seven Marches of the 1990’s.
This March reminds me how much I miss those Marches.
Cousins “A” and “B” are no longer bright-eyed high school boys playing for their home towns.
Cousin “A” is no longer on a line scrapping for his college team.
Cousin “B” is no longer a kid. He’s now raising his own boy, though in a not-as-great-as-Minnesota-hockey-state. That kid, I will see he plays some form of hockey in this state – especially in March. Cousin “B” can expect many hockey camp brochures will be forwarded to his not-as-great-as-Minnesota-hockey-state address.
This is where March is magical.
This is where March is meaningful.
This is March in Minnesota; a Moment no one can top.