Politics aside, one thing is clear: Don’t mess with a hockey mom
Bonnie Henessey seemed relaxed chatting with her friends while bundled up in a blanket and a sweatshirt at Grand Junction’s hockey rink, watching her 18-year-old son, Tommy, try out for the Junior Mavericks hockey team.
However, if it were a game, Henessey admitted, she wouldn’t be quite as laid back as she was on this balmy Saturday as temperatures outside climbed into the 80s.
With a new ice hockey season approaching, a smattering of parents who dotted the bleachers at Glacier Ice Arena this weekend said they felt a connection with a now often-repeated joke told by Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
During her speech Wednesday night to the Republican National Convention, the Alaska governor, a self-dubbed “hockey mom,” said lipstick is the only thing distinguishing pit bulls from hockey moms.
There’s a truth to that only parents of hockey players know, Henessy said.
Henessy said her mother-in-law once got kicked out of a game for threatening a referee, but nobody really wanted to talk about the details of that. Other tales of heated yelling matches among bystanders and referees and other players are as common as checking — the nearly required hockey move of slamming an opponent into the wall.
“It’s your baby out there,” Henessey said, eyeing a rink filled with players careening across the ice and smashing into the plexiglass walls. “We’re so into it, we even cheer for goals during practice.”
Parents at the rink Saturday said the sport’s lightning-fast pace, coupled with players wielding sticks, tends to be rowdy by nature. Add to that the noise generated by a dozen players and two referees scraping across the ice to the wild cheering (or jeering) of a crowd that is trying to be heard over the plexiglass barriers, and the recipe gets a little spiked.
Hockey parents must rise at ungodly hours to transport loved ones to inconvenient rink times that can range from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., as play times at local rinks are always a precious commodity. Parents also spend big bucks— $1,500 a year on registration alone for team play — on gear, hotel rooms, food and gas to haul around players with their gigantic bags to hit the state’s ice rinks.
If that’s not enough, parents are rewarded by being able to sit or stand around in the cold.
One particularly nippy game that many parents remembered in Crested Butte was played in temperatures that dropped to minus-17 degrees.
“I didn’t think it was that bad,” mused parent Christy Greiner, who is described by friends as being one of the louder moms.
Greiner had a bullhorn, but it broke. She determined she doesn’t need it anyway. Her children, Dustin, 16, and Sam Daves, 14, can hear her just fine from the stands.
Dawn Jensen, who drives her son, 17-year-old Thomas Ford, from their home in Paonia to play, said only a hockey mom would know about the unique smell of the sport. Their family once thought their home had a sewage leak until they traced the stench back to a festering hockey bag.
“I understand being a hockey mom,” she said. “I love to watch. As a mom you feel part of the intensity.”
Wes Hamon, hockey dad of 15-year-old AJ Hamon, said that after hearing Palin’s joke he considered bringing in 10 tubes of lipstick to distribute to some hockey moms Saturday.
While some parents joked that they should host fundraisers selling spiky dog collars, lipstick on a string or calendars of tough hockey moms, Hamon agreed the pitbull description fit.
And of hockey parents as a whole, he said, “The best thing for refs is they can’t hear us through the plexiglass.”