When I was younger, I really only knew of three team sports: soccer, football, and of course, basketball. During the summer, my friends and I would get up, eat breakfast, maybe watch an hour or two of TV and then hit the basketball courts. We would play ALL DAY in the summertime sun, and then hang out at the court with the night lights on...usually talking about....you guessed it....basketball. As you probably know by now, I ate, slept, and breathed basketball.....and I still do. I can tell right away what type of defense a team is playing and what to do to beat it, I can gauge right away if someone is worth taking serious on the court, and I can tell if a coach is in over his head in a tight game. My dad still calls me from time to time to ask me where so and so went for college and what's his story. I have to admit, my knowledge of the players/game has waned slightly but I still am a wealth of basketball knowledge. I don't really brag on myself that much, but I will admit that I know the game of basketball. When Ayren and I finally found out that our first child was going to be a boy....we had already made the decision what his name was going to be.....John Robert Cannady III.....and we would call him Trey...I was super excited! Even a couple of days after he was born, he looked like his ole dad in his baby pictures. Fast forward a few months, while Trey was in his jumper....I turned him towards the TV where I was watching my beloved UNC Tarheels take on his mothers alma mater NC State in the ACC Tournament (UNC won that game by the way....). Trey and I were on our way to taking up the tradition that my father and I had....cheering on UNC basketball!
Trey at an early age was a very energetic, muscular, athletic little boy. He would run and jump off of anything, he loved when I would 'rough house' him and toss him around, and his reflexes were advanced for someone his age. These are all perfect things to have and like if you are on your way to playing in the NBA! Well, a few years later, Trey was now aware of sports and actually played a season of soccer, basketball, a few seasons of baseball, and a class around our Northern Virginia neighborhood called 'Little Warriors'. The class covered a different sport each Saturday in a two month span. I'll be completely honest....Trey was not feeling soccer at all. 'Ok', I thought....'I was actually pretty good at soccer, but I can understand where it wouldn't appeal to him' Basketball season was up next....here we go! THIS is my ish! I could tell him what to look out for, give him advice on how to shoot the perfect jumpshot, how to slide his feet while on D.....I was ready to turn lil Trey Cannady into the next all star that got college attention at age 7! When we ran Trey out there with the other kids, Trey was just 'Eh' with basketball.....what? Yep, the guy who lived and breathed basketball, the guy who would instill all of his love and knowledge of the sport to his son (who know is a splitting image of me)....but Trey was just ok with it. I would ask him 'So, did you have fun?' And by now, Trey knew how much the game of basketball means to me, so he would hit me with the look-away, then the 'Yeah Daddy! I had so much fun.....' So, I've never been the smartest guy in the room, but one of my talents is being able to read people right away. While Trey was giving me the 'I like it' coming out of his mouth, his body language showed me different. Don't get me wrong, Trey did all of the drills fine, and he was actually one of the best kids in the basketball class, but he just wasn't the 6 year old basketball phenom that I envisioned. Darn.
Then a funny thing happened....Ayren started to sign Trey up for sports and activities that were outside of my wheelhouse. She signed him up (by mistake) for a tennis class (that he LOVED!), a nature camp (the only thing I knew about nature growing up, was which woods to cut across to get to the basketball court), and an art camp (again....he LOVED it). He even flirted with wanting to go to a fencing camp, and we would have put him in it, but he is too young. One sport that captured Trey's imagination right away was hockey. He loved everything about it. The skates, the equipment, the jersey....you name it, he was into it. Problem is.....I know NOTHING about hockey. I can't even bullshit my way through a conversation about hockey the way I do with other sports. The only concrete thing I know about hockey is that it happens during the same time as basketball season. Trey immediately took to it....the same way I did with basketball. He took a few skating lessons so that he could move around the ice and just this past month, Ayren and I (along with his grandfather who also know NOTHING about hockey) took Trey to a 'Try Hockey Day' at the ice rink by our house where the Washington Capitals practice (the place is awesome with an awesome gift shop). This rink is also where Trey has his ice skating lessons, so he's familiar with the spot. Well, I didn't know what to expect. Trey had never used a stick while he ice skated, let alone put on all of the gear. But please believe me when I tell you, Trey was completely in his element out there! He was skating up and down the ice like a wounded duck when he started off and by the time the class was over, he looked like he has been playing hockey for at least a few years. He was shooting and scoring at the goals and he never stopped skating. And I have to tell you.....I have never had so much fun seeing Trey out there! I will also admit that I teared up a lot after he skated and scored a goal. I was so proud of him. It was definitely a dad highlight.
I had spent so much time trying to envision how I was going to mold this future NBA All Star and how to coach him, but ended up having just as much fun watching him excel in a sport I know NOTHING about. Now, Trey is only six and maybe down the road will take to basketball, but wow....he really loves hockey. Ayren was telling me about seeing a gold medal figure skater speak recently before the Winter Olympics and someone asked him about did he feel pressure from his parents and he said that he didn't because neither one of his parents knew anything about figure skating. The only thing they knew about figure skating was that he loved it and enjoyed it, and they loved him, so they just had fun supporting him. That's the same way I look at it. Maybe if Trey stays with hockey, I will pick up some tips and rules about the sport, but seriously, the only rule I know is someone shoots and scores! It was a good lesson for me also, because I was actually worried that I would be overbearing and push a lot of my interests onto my son. But, I'm starting to find out that I don't have anything to worry about. Trey is going to be just fine......