It all started on an early Saturday morning during late August in a small northern town called Elliot Lake, just before the new school year. The house next to Hectors that had sat abandoned for months had finally been purchased by a new family that was just moving in. Hectors parents travelled a lot for work and vacations, he had been longing for a new friend to move in next door.
As he sat in front of the big bay window at the front of the house that overlooked the newly occupied home, he watched the movers unload their belongings. First came a large dresser, followed by a desk, beds, couches, and what seemed like an endless stream of suitcases and small boxes. But no toys or sports equipment meant for a young teen like Hector. Hectors hopes of a new friend began to dwindle as more and more belongings were unpacked, until suddenly, one of the movers lugged out a huge hockey bag. Hector new by the face of the mover that the foul odour of sweat and rotting equipment meant one thing, there was not just a new kid moving in, he played hockey. His excitement became overjoyed on the fact that of all sports it was hockey, Hectors favourite sport was hockey. He was practically a legend back at school, top scorer, numerous MVP awards, and team captain.
Hector took no time at all bursting through the garage door to grab his brand new hockey stick and run over to the new family’s home. All of his excitement he had to show off his new stick was lost immediately after he was greeted at the end of the driveway by the father. In front of him stood a giant of a man, “must be 7 feet tall!” Hector thought to himself. The man looked very intimidating, with tattooed sleeves down both arms, ear piercings, not to mention the monstrous black beard that consumed his face.
“Is there something you want kid?” asked the man in an aggressive tone.
“I live next door” Mumbled Hector as he stared at the ground, “I wanted the new boy my stick, its brand new!”
The man’s expression didn’t change, he simply nodded and from the pit of his stomach he yelled “Jaison! Come here!”. Almost immediately emerged the boy from the garage, dressed in sporting attire from a club. The father left the two boys as Jaison walked over. With nothing more than a huge grin on his face, Hector thrust is stick forward in an attempt to impress Jaison.
“Oh…that’s a nice stick” stated Jaison, “I used a few of those last year but I got the newer version this year, it’s much better you know.” Hector seemed taken back by this; he always had the newest stuff. He quickly began inquiring about what team Jaison played for.
“I play on the school hockey team; I make it every year without even really trying. You play just for fun or something right?” asked Hector.
“No, I play for team Canada, I was just voted captain last week” replied Jaison who seemed to be unimpressed by Hectors attitude. Astonished Hector stood speechless. He had tried out for that team for the last 3 years and never made it.
The next day Hector sat at home alone entering the events from the day before into his journal; he shared the news of their new neighbours when he had talked to his parents on the phone when they called to see how he was doing. They seemed delighted that there was a new boy, and Hector would have some friendly competition.
Tuesday August 28, 2012
I always wanted a new kid to move in next door, now I wish it never happened. He has the best equipment out there and he plays for the best team out there. My dad seems to think it will be good to have somebody to compete against. I think that’s a joke, what if everyone at school thinks he is better, I don’t want someone better than me on the team. Maybe he’s not as good as it sounds; I bet he’s on the team as a mascot or something. Yeah! That’s what it is, he doesn’t even play, he’s a mascot. I doubt he’ll even show up to tryouts at school. With school in 2 days there is no way he will be ready to tryout by then.
Hector spent the rest of his summer holiday in the driveway practicing, training and working out. He was committed to make sure that Jaison could not beat him at anything in anyway; Hector was going to be the best in everyone’s eyes.
At last,the first day of school had come and so was the day of tryouts.Throughout the first day back to school, nothing out of the ordinary happened. Everyone was excited as usual to watch Hector hit the ice. However in his mind, all he could think of was beating Jaison at tryouts and being the best, his father wouldn’t expect anything less.
Although Hector and Jaison lived on the same street, Hector made sure to avoid him and walked alone to the rink for tryouts, “I’m not going to let some new kid walk in here and beat me, I could be on Team Canada if I wanted to be” he muttered under his breath. By the time Hector stormed into the hockey rink, his envious thoughts continued, so much so that while he was getting ready at a breakneck speed he was putting his skates on so tight he was losing circulation to his feet. “I hate these skates!” exclaimed Hector as he realised what had done. He and secluded himself to the far corner of the room alone to get ready, nothing was going take his mind of his goal.
Meanwhile on the other side of the change room was Jaison who seemed much more upbeat. He was socializing with the other players while he taped the blade of his stick. Jaison eagerly asked, “Hey did you guys watch the hockey game on T.V last night!?”. The room immediately erupted into conversation as kids began to comment on it and the amazing win by the home team.
“It’s amazing” thought Hector, “he’s not even fazed by the pressure of this tryout…”. Jaison always took these event serious and he was very laid back and relaxed. He noticed some other new players who appeared nervous. In a calm voice Jaison revealed that he was new as well and simply explained “…stressing about making the team or not isn’t worth it, having fun out there is the best choice. You win by having out there, and you win again if you make it. It’s a win win!”. Jaison easy going ways and optimistic tone put the new guys at easy.
As the conversations in the dressing room continued, Coach Tim entered and announced it was time to head out to the ice. All of the players including, Hector and Jaison shuffled out of the crowded change room to the ice. The Zamboni was still out laying down a fresh sheet of ice, the player’s heads watched it go around, and round, just like a dog being teased with a toy rope. The coaching staff gathered everyone as they made an announcement about how the tryout was going to work. Coach Tim stood on a chair with the players glued to his every word. He drew everyone’s attention to the far side of the rink where the other entrance was. Across the ice stood another team, dressed and ready to go. The sound of mumbling and small conversations fell over the players. The Coach chuckled under his breath as he noticed the confused look on all of the players.
Coach Tim began to explain, “This isn’t your normal tryout, instead of doing an endless number of drills we are going to play a full on game against another team.”
Every player was given a number when the signed in at the rink, no one knew what they were for and thought nothing of it. “It all made sense now”, Hector thought to himself. Those numbers must be lines. He began asking his friends and other players what number they were; he was only able to find one player that was on his line. Hector was positive that he had asked everyone there, until it dawned on him. He hadn’t asked Jaison! Of all the people, Jaison was on his line, this was a disaster. Jaison seemed happy about the whole situation; he figured that they would work together.
Without much warm-up, the refs were on the ice and the puck was dropped. Although not official teams yet, the two were evenly matched and had been playing very well. Despite Hector initial worries about Jaison and being on the same line, it had been going well for him. The two boys were getting an even amount of ice time and Hector at times was even out playing the “elite” Jaison.
As the skirmish continued Hector and Jaison’s shift was fast approaching. Jaison had always been a motivator and a play maker on the ice; he decided it would be a good idea to strategize before they left the bench.
Jaison began to explain his idea to Hector, “Hey Hector, see how they always leave that far side open when we break out of our end? If you get the puck on that side I’ll break out early and hit me with a pass.”
“Are you kidding me?” snapped Hector, “You think I’m going to let you sit up on the blue line while I do all of the work to set YOU up!?”
Taken back by unprovoked verbal attack, Jaison replied.“I don’t know what you’re talking about, can’t you see? That side is wide op….”
“No no no, I don’t think so” interrupted Hector, “Just because you played for Canada doesn’t mean that you’re going to get all the credit for everything!”
“Is that what this is about?” questioned Jaison. He calmly explained, “that side of this ice is your responsibility. I’m not trying to take anything away from you; I’m trying to help us both out”.
The pair had not realized, but the time on the play clock was getting closer and closer to the final buzzer, with the score still tied at 0-0 it was anybodies game. All Jaison was doing, was being a true teammate and trying to be constructive. But before Jaison and Hectors conversation could continue the teammates on the ice came screaming towards the bench, their shift was over. The exhausted players fumbled through the bench door as Hector, Jaison and the rest of the new line hoped over the boards. Both teams were giving it their all to impress the coaches of their team. During one of the other teams rushes, a defenseman on Hectors team stumbled and fell giving the other team a clear shot to the net. With just under 2 minutes remaining in the game no one could afford to let a mistake like that go. Panicking, Hector froze, he watched in horror as the opposing team rocketed toward his net. Suddenly, out of nowhere came Jaison hot on the attacker’s tale. With a swift swing of his stick he knocked the puck free right to Hectors feet. Startled by the sudden turn of events, Hector clumsily took off with it.
Jaison, on the far side was screaming, “HEY! RIGHT HERE I’M OPEN!” as the play that was currently developing was the exact one that he had tried to point out to Hector on the bench. Hector continued on, ignoring Jaison. In his mind he decided there was no way he was going to pass to Jaison, he was going to be there hero and keep his prestigious reputation at school. In the background he could hear the people in the stands counting down from the clock, “10…9…8…”.
All that stood between Hector and the net was a single defenseman, with Jaison wide open on the far side Hector went for it by himself in the dying seconds of the game. With perfect execution, the opposing defenseman dove forward jarring the puck from Hectors position. Almost simultaneously the buzzer went, echoing through the arena. The game had ended and despite being a tryout the coaches wanted a win, it was going into overtime.
The team collected their thoughts during a brief intermission before the start of overtime. Hector didn’t think much of it; the rest of players on the other hand though had a problem.
One of the newer players piped up, “Hector! Why didn’t you pass to Jaison, he was wide open. We could have won the game by now!” The other players murmured among each other agreeing with the statement. Jaison stood quietly at the back of the group as the conversation about Hectors selfish act continued.
Hector stood dumbfounded; he didn’t understand how all of the players who looked up to him were against him. A whirlwind of thoughts went through him, “How could this be!?” he thought. Suddenly as the ref blew the whistle signalling the players to take their positions, Hector came to a realization. It was one of those life lessons your parents teach about when you’re a little kid, it was about sharing and being a friend. He knew that this wasn’t a war between Jaison and himself anymore, it was competition. The game continued on with Hectors knew thoughts off Jaison. The other team was getting close to a goal, hitting the post and crossbar 3 times. Hector and Jaison sat on the bench anxiously awaiting their shift. When at last it was their turn they were on the ice with a mission, to win the game together. It was a tense moment as there was a battle for the puck in the corner of Hector and Jaison’s net. Hector sat with his hips against the boards waiting for the puck, at last his defenseman freed the puck and hit him with a perfect pass, tape to tape. Like bull at rodeo launching out of the gate, Hector was on the move. It was like déjà vu,, in front of him stood the same player between him and the net. The two players grew closer and closer to the net opposing net just as the defenseman made a move on Hector. Immediately Hector passed the puck to Jaison who was wide open with a clear shot to the net. Without hesitation, Jaison one timed it ringing it off the crossbar and in. The team erupted into a cheer and came rushing out onto the ice.
Hector stood back awaiting the team to congratulate Jaison; however to his surprise everyone pulled the two of them together to congratulate both. Jaison and Hector were the heroes of the game! All of this time Hector had spent worrying was all for nothing, he had learned that you can’t be the best without a team and Jaison was a part of that team.
The boys all celebrated in the change room while they waited for their name to be called. Despite the flawless effort by everyone, cuts had to be made. Knowing that, Hector wasn’t worried or hoping Jaison wouldn’t make the team. All of those feelings were in the past and he just hoped that they both would make the team and get the chance to play on the same line again. After what felt like an eternity, Hector was called into the separate room and met with a “Congratulations” from Coach Tim. The coach was extremely happy about Hectors performance and specifically how he learned from his mistakes and looked for making the pass, rather than trying to be the hero himself. He quickly thanked the coach and left the room, still trembling from excitement Hector waited up for Jaison. Jaison received the same speech from the coach and was congratulated for his effort. When Jaison left the meeting room, he was greeted by Hector and shared the good news with him, they had both made the team!
At last, the two boys were on the same page, superstar hockey players and adored by the school. All that was for certain on what laid ahead for Hector and Jaison, was a friendship and a season to remember.