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Letter from a ‘Hockey Mom’ regarding Kingston’s loss of the Voyageurs

Theresa Mitchell became a ‘hockey mom’ due to her sons’ love of the game, but the community and experiences she found with the Kingston Voyageurs made her a Vees fan for life. Theresa is pictured here with her two hockey-playing sons, Max Emelifeonwu (L), and Zach Emelifeonwu (R). Submitted photo.

 

Editorial note: The following is a letter submitted to Kingstonist following the news that the Kingston Voyageurs team is being sold and moved to Collingwood.

 

I’ve been a hockey mom for 18 years. I wasn’t meant to be one. I didn’t grow up in a hockey family, and I married an African. Nothing was further from my mind when I started having a family.

My children had other plans. We first started playing in CAL when Zach was 6. He grew up at the rink; first Harold Harvey and Centre 70. He moved over to GK in his PeeWee year and it was the Invista Centre, buses and tournaments from then on.

He joined the Vees after a successful GK career, being drafted to the Fronts (unfortunately, the same draft year as Sam Bennett, Roland McKeown and the Watson twins), and a year at The Hill Academy in Toronto. He sat on the bench a lot his first season. That’s frustrating, but also understandable for a rookie. I cheered the team on, he practiced and worked out. It was exciting when he got the chance to play.

The most memorable game was that against the Lindsay Muskies on November 6, 2014 (thank God for Google). The boys were down 6-2 with just over 6 minutes to go in the game. At that time, the fans numbered around 500, so if you wanted to get out quickly, you left a few minutes early. On this night, however, that would have been a bad idea. Had you stayed, you would have seen some of the greatest hockey of your life.

With time running down, we scored three powerplay goals and the tying goal came with one second left in the period. Fans, players, parents and coaches were all going crazy! To put the icing on the cake, we won that game in overtime. I don’t know that any of us had ever witnessed such a miraculous comeback at such a high level of competition.

Mike, ‘the Vees Sign Guy,’ handmade signs for every player on the Kingston Voyageurs each year. He is pictured here with the sign he made for Mitchell’s son, Max, last year. Submitted photo.

We were all proud to be Vees that night. More important than one particular game, however, is the incredible bond that develops between people around the sport of hockey. I found a group of fans who love the game, not because they have a vested interest due to their kids being part of the team, but because they love amateur sports. I sit beside a farmer, who brings the young lad who lives next door as a treat. I sit in front of Mike, who hand designs posters for each of the players every year and gets the crowd going with his cowbell. I sit diagonally from Nancy, President of the Booster Club, with her horn and cries of “sit on him!!” that I miss. And of course, a game wouldn’t be complete without a rousing version of ‘Who Let the Dogs Out?’ with Nancy as head of the pack.

My Thursday nights aren’t going to be nearly as entertaining. My boys have benefited from the brotherhood of hockey. We were privileged to have them play Jr. A hockey in their hometown. I met so many fine young men, as they would often come to our home with either Zach or Max (who played this year with the team) for some food, some X Box or to soak their aching muscles in the hot tub.

Zach now plays with Union College in Albany, NY. He is there with fellow Vees teammate, Anthony Rinaldi. They have lived together all three years at Union and when they line up for the anthem, Anthony and Zach always stand side by side. They are brothers for life.

Max was just beginning his Jr A career this season. He, too, loved being part of the team. Where he will go is uncertain. Peter Goulet has been a wonderful coach for my spirited young man.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. With the closing down of the Vees in Kingston, we have lost a little bit of that village. I am sad, but grateful for the experiences we had.

– Theresa Mitchell

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