Thanksgiving hockey has been a way of life around here for the past 30+ years. Pretty much every travel team plays here at Winnetka and North Shore…nothing better than driving down the street to play and watch hockey. Coming off a weekend “double-header” in Romeoville and Bolingbrook, I like the idea of down the street!
However, it is more than that. It is a way to connect with families…it’s a chance to see every kid and team play. It is a chance for our club to “show off” our volunteerism and support for this event. That’s a nice way of saying if you haven’t signed up to help out at the Wishbone, please do so. This event needs EVERY WHC Travel parent to help out.
Most all these youth tournaments we go to nowadays are run by “outside operators”. That means higher entry fees, and mandatory stays in the “approved” hotels. The “Ma and Pa” tournaments are becoming a thing of the past. Last year my Pee Wee team went to a small town in Wisconsin named Waupun. Before the tournament, the chair sent a note asking that we patronize the concession stand because that’s how they make a few bucks off of it. My coaches and I took this as our cue to eat brats all weekend…four games of 15-minute stop-time periods for like $400 (compared to close to $2,000 for others) and brats and homemade chili for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
The Wishbone has had many “cycles” in its’ existence. In the early 90’s, we struck up a relationship with Marquette, Michigan, after playing them for a National Championship. We went to their tournament, and they came to ours. All of our AA teams would play them Thursday night after dinner…which usually meant we were 0 and 1 by the time the games started Friday (uh, they were good). We also watched a game with two young kids from the Madison Capitals named Ryan Suter and Phil Kessel come for six years. They now make a decent living playing hockey.
Now, most of the teams are local, and that’s OK. Hockey is hockey and we try to make sure all the games are competitive. It’s fun to see our teams do well.
As parents of our players, I hope you convey to your kids how lucky they are. How fun this event is (win or lose). Let’s represent our club with class…and remember, be nice to the refs! I hope they give thanks for playing this great game. I hope they give thanks for the friends they, and you, have made through hockey.
It’s a long five days…but there’s nowhere else I’d rather be!
Go Warriors and Happy Thanksgiving!