Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Detroit (part three)

Sometimes what is true on Monday is not true on Wednesday.

Eli 10.11 had a great day at goalie camp on Monday. He established himself--as much as a ten-year-old can establish himself, anyway.

On Tuesday, he still played well, but he was even with Tommy, not better. Bandits is more of a Butterfly camp, and Eli's style is the Pro Hybrid. There are common elements to both styles, but as the goalie coaches were butterfly coaches, they were showing him how to do certain things that were in conflict with the instruction of his goalie coach back home (who is very, very good). So he struggled in some drills where the coaches adjustments ran counter to what he already knew.

In other news, though, he and Tommy were already thick as thieves.

"Man, I wish Tommy lived closer," he said, getting dressed for off-ice training. "He is totally fun. It would be great to hang out with him."

"His mom is just as nice," I said. "His brothers and sisters, too. That is a seriously nice family." He finished lacing up his shoes. "Hey, I want you to work hard in off-ice, but it's hot out there, and it's a long week."

He laughed. "It's not hot here," he said. "I'm fine. I feel great."

Off-ice was the last hour of the camp. For parents, it was a down hour--there was nothing to watch, really. So I spent some time outside, in the shade of the rink building, just relaxing.

The rink was adjacent to a cemetery--a big one. And with an hour to kill (easily, one of the worst puns ever), and lots of wet gear in the car, it was inevitable that an enterprising parent was going to do this:

Eli's comment about the cemetery: "That's where goalies who don't close their five-holes wind up."

I thought that as the week progressed, Eli would get better and better, but by Wednesday afternoon, I realized something was wrong. He wasn't doing well in drills. Tommy was consistently outplaying him, and then there was a one-on-one drill where Tommy stopped six shooters in a row. Eli stopped two shots.

They rotated off the ice for video review, and I walked past as I headed for the bathroom. He grabbed my arm and steered me away from the kids sitting at the video table. "Dad, they're jacking with my stuff," he said, with tears in his eyes.

"What?" I asked, bewildered. "Who?"

"The coaches," he said. "They're changing everything I do. Do you know why I couldn't stop any of those shots? They've changed so much stuff that I'm overthinking everything."

I put my hand on his shoulder. "Look, it's a long week," I said. "You're on the ice so much that you're going to go through stretches where you're not playing as well. That's just a test for you to learn how to focus more clearly. Lots of guys play well, at their best, but how many people play well even when they're playing poorly?"

He nodded. "I get it," he said.

"Plus," I said, laughing, "did you see Tommy in that drill? Unbelievable!"

"I told him that," he said, smiling. "He was SICK."

He played better for the rest of the day, although Tommy was clearly still better. We had a few minutes to talk before Gloria came back at 5 to pick us up.

"Tomorrow, every kid out there except you is going to be tired," I said. "You guys have spent a ton of time on the ice, you've worked out in the parking lot for off-ice, and everyone is exhausted."

"I'm not," he said.

"That's right," I said.

He laugh. "No, seriously, I'm really NOT exhausted," he said. "I feel great."

"That's why you're the Superfreak," I said. "You're going to own Thursday and Friday."

"It can't get here soon enough," he said.

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