Full circle moments. That was Saturday. On the day when Minnesota celebrated the state holiday, I brought my cousin’s kiddo to her first Gopher Women’s Hockey game. Flashback 20 some years ago and that was her mom bringing me to hockey games at Mariucci.
Now her daughter is playing 8U and knows the Minnesota rouser complete with the right amount of wrist twirling on the “yeahhhhh Gophers.” At first, amidst piles of popcorn cups, pop, and nachos, I thought she’d only enjoy the game for the snacks. I was wrong. She chatted and bounced around in her seat, snuggled in for hugs and laughed like an 8U girl should. She got nervous and excited at all the right times and diligently read the game program.
At one point, I heard someone say my name and turned around to find a youth hockey coach/dad that I’ve known for a while. He was with his daughter and team (15U); a girl I knew when she was in 5th grade. We chatted and caught up on the “where are you’s” and “how’s your fam’s” and then we went our separate ways to finish watching the game. And I just shook my head and thought, I was just at a game and your daughter was 10! How is she almost driving?
After the game, I packed up my cousin’s kiddo and we shuffled our way through the exiting crowd. On one particular shuffle-stop-sidestep-shuffle maneuver, I looked over and realized I was standing next to a former Gopher Women’s player, former kid I nannied, and now friend. We did one of those, look-focus-“hi”-deals and pulled off a walking hug. We’d texted not long ago, but it was still nice to catch up on the “how are you’s” and “so nice to see you’s.” And I looked at the almost 8 year old I was with and remembered when the young lady on my other side was 8 years old and talking about weird, goofy things and laughing about nothing. It was like glimpsing past and future in the present.
As I held my cousin’s hand through the parking garage, I thought about our time together. How three periods, an over time, and 11 rounds of a shoot out went by so fast.
And then I remembered my other Minnesota hockey run-ins from the game; reminders of where I’ve been and who I’ve known. I looked down at my little cousin, excited for the dinner Id promised her, and thought about kids these days and how really, they’re just like kids from those days. The days I’ve had in years past with bright eyed hockey players in this State of Hockey. And that’s a circle of life moment to the fullest that I don’t want to forget.