From the Sidelines

From the Sidelines is stories from parents that give the perspective of what it’s like watching their children play the sports they love. It gives you an inside look at the struggles parents have as they watch their children's succeed and fail.

As youth hockey has ended for two of our three daughters all we can do is look back and smile, laugh and shed a tear. We smile for the memories, laugh at all the good times we had and shed a tear for the time we will never get back with our girls.

Images of Madeline clearing the crease to protect her goalie, Emily skating end to end with puck, Mary in front of the net being the human screen to create the lane during a power play, or hearing “Kromer from Kromer” as a goal is announced are the images and sounds that will be forever etched in our brains.

Over the past 13 years, the Kromer girls have been a fixture in the WNY Girls/Women’s hockey landscape, along with us, their parents supporting and cheering them and their teammates on every step of the way. Mike and I can only look back and appreciate the unique personalities, and skill sets each of them have brought to the rink day in and day out for more than a decade.

Most recently Mike and I truly have learned how special this hockey journey has been as we watched some of our younger friends and acquaintances start their’s as their child joined their first hockey team or made their first travel team.

We smiled as we heard the excitement in the child’s voice and their own. To these new hockey parents we relayed the message cherish every moment because it will be over before you know it, which we knew all too well.

Our middle daughter was heading to her last youth hockey tournament in a few short weeks at the USA Hockey National Championships in Marlborugh, Massachussets with her 19u Tier I Niagara Junior Purple Eagles Team.

This would be the second time in Emily’s youth hockey career that she and her team would be representing New York State at a Tier I National Championship, the last time was in 2016 with the Buffalo Bisons 16u Tier I Team.

However, this tournament was going to be different and more special, she was getting to share it with her younger sister, Mary, who was on the team. Coming along to cheer on her younger sisters was Madeline, who this past season was assistant captain of the Buffalo State women’s hockey team. As parents there was no better feeling than having the three girls crammed into the hotel room for a tournament weekend complaining about who is sleeping where, just like we did in 2006 when this hockey journey began.

When Madeline arrived at the tournament she asked me how Emily was, “I said quiet.” Madeline missed the first game, due to classes. I inquired about why she was asking. Madeline informed me she had received a long text from Emily about the first game and she was concerned.

At that moment, I knew something special had formed throughout the years with their relationship. They needed each other and could relate to each, something we as parents could not do. Emily needed her sister for support after losing the first game at the National Tournament in an 11-player shoot out where she was the last shooter.

This relationship is not unique to Madeline and Emily, but I always wonder to myself would the girls be as close if it was not for hockey. In an interview with a local TV station last year, Mary told the reporter that she and Emily had a telepathic mind thing going on and this year told another reporter there is nothing like playing with your sister and your best friend. As parents, this unique bond Mike and I have watched the girls form is what has made this hockey journey worth the thousands of miles traveled, time away from our community and extra hours put in working to fund it all worth it. We only hope to see this bond grow as they enter the next phase of their lives.

So the next time an acquaintance or friend ask why we did it my answer would be “It is not about the championships along the way but the unique bonds you form with your teammates”, even it was your sisters.