Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Tryout (part four)

One more game.

I wasn't worried about Eli 14.7 making it as a camp selection. That seemed like a crazy dream. I just wanted him to play well, because the confidence he'd gain from this weekend would be permanent.

He was pretty confident already, though.

"Dad, I know this is a crazy weekend, but I feel great," he said. "I've felt great all weekend."

"Same three keys," I said.

"I know," he said, and he laughed. Then he walked into the rink and his future.

There was no real way for me to connect the dots between a kid playing in "A" league in Texas to this kid in front of me. He was so poised, so at ease, in such a high-pressure environment.

Was this too much to ask? Was he going to crack?

In a word, no.

The second game was much the same as the first, except he didn't get as much work. No rebounds. No drama. Just workmanlike control in the crease.

He gave up one goal, then one more in the last 30 seconds on a penalty shot.

A very, very strong game.

He came off the ice and I hugged him. "I don't know if you'll make it," I said, "but there's absolutely nothing more you could have done. That was a master class in how to play the position."

He gave me a big grin.

"That was SO MUCH FUN!" he said, laughing.

Then we went home.

The results were going to get posted later. How much later, we didn't know, and didn't even know if they'd be posted that day.

There was a website. Eli refreshed quite a bit, and so did his teammates.

I didn't. He had been brilliant. It didn't matter if they took him.

"Stop that," I said, laughing. "If they post it, you'll know within fifteen seconds because everyone else will text you."

"Good point," he said. He played Stardew Valley for a while in the car, the drive was interminable, and finally, we got home.

No results.

Around 8 p.m., I went up to his room. He was riding a motorcycle down the steepest mountain in GTA V, seeing how creatively he could wipe out.

His phone was beside him.

It's pretty involving, riding down a mountain at high speed. We talked about strategy, and laughed every time he wiped out, and time passed easily.

His phone buzzed.

He picked it up and looked at the screen. "Dad, I MADE IT!" he said with a huge smile on his face. "We're going to Salt Lake City!"

He gave me a big hug. His hugs are strong now, all about who he'll be one day.

"What about the other guys?" I asked.

He looked back down, then shouted. "CAM MADE IT TOO!"

Two kids. From Austin.

I never thought I'd ever have a reason to visit Utah. Funny how that happens.

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