Growing up with hockey in Canada, Thanksgiving weekend and a hockey tournament somewhere went hand and hand.
For obvious reasons using long weekends always made sense for hockey tournaments, so families got used to eating the turkey late, not eating it at all or sending one parent to the cold rink while the other and family spent the holiday together and being thankful.
As both schools navigate COVID-19, in many ways we are doing it together. The environments that we have created and the boarding communities that our students are respecting allowed us to hit the ice (and soccer pitch) at the Pat Burns Arena this past weekend. New norms were easy to find, with the BCS bus arriving promptly 30 minutes before puck drop, all in the building (which was not many, as only essential personnel were allowed) had their masks on, and of course hands were washed and temperature checked. What may have seemed like hurdles many months ago are now just another routine in our lives, and of course following these routines allowed us to play the game that we love to play.
That brings us to the game. It too was different. Teams were split into two groups: 10 skaters each who competed for half a game each. Body checking was no more. But the thrill of the game was back in the face of our biggest competitor as athletes, students and humans: COVID-19.
I can only imagine how difficult it was for so many of our boarding students to not be able to return home and see family, but the community that we have built here at Stanstead College seems stronger than ever. It is easy to fixate on the things that are different or that we are missing out on, but I hope that all can value small experiences like these hockey games, the constant activities on campus and the joy of being able to be in such a rich setting.
To sum it up, Thanksgiving always feels a little different without a turkey and my family, but something about the ice, shooting pucks and joy of sport feels like just another Thanksgiving weekend for me. I was proud to be able to see the varsity hockey team compete, proud of their effort and proud as always to see new faces represent our school as Spartans.