Life in El Norte


Last night was 20 Prospect Jr.’s first hockey game of the season. As I have mentioned before, this is his first year playing “squirts” for the El Norte “Droogs”. (Up here in the North Metro, we likey the Ultra Violence).

Squirts is the 10-11 year old age group, where the sport becomes truly competitive for the first time. So this was the first “real” hockey game, with “real” uniforms, actual rules, penalties, and a referee.

Well, except for the referee part.

We discovered as we took the ice that our District does not supply referee’s for the Squirt games. This was news to us, and the coaches on the other team. So there we were, two full teams of kids excited to play hockey, a rink, a scoreboard, a timekeeper, and a bleacher full of parents and grandparents all excited to see their little Wayne Gretzky’s play hockey. No referee.

After about five minutes of confusion, and searching for someone with a pair of skates that would be willing to ref the game, one of the dad’s of a kid on our team stepped forward. I was relieved, since if he hadn’t I would most likely have been the guy to do it. The only thing holding me back being that I can’t skate nearly as good as the kids, and I don’t really know all the rules. Still, that hasn’t stopped me from being a coach.

I shouldn’t have worried. As the kids were going through their warmups our volunteer referee stepped out onto the ice, dressed in a purple Minnesota Vikings Jersey, and blue jeans, then promptly fell flat on his ass. Now, I assumed that this was purely nerves, since I have seen this Dad help out at a few of our practices and I know for a fact that he can skate. He’s not even one of the older Dad’s, I’m guessing late 20’s, maybe 30 years old at the most. So he’s also in pretty good shape.

So when the volunteer ref struggled to his feet, we called the boys in and got ready to start. As our ref got within about 10 feet of the bench, I could smell the booze rolling off of him like a cloud. He stopped by the boards to talk to the coaches, and his eyes looked like two piss holes in a snowbank. This guy was beyond drunk. He was blotto. I looked at the other coaches, and they looked at me and shrugged. So we said what the hell, and tossed him a puck. He dropped it, and when he bent over to pick it up, he went down for the second time. And so began the now infamous “Game with the Drunk Referee”.

I suppose we should have been appalled, and outraged. We probably should have intervened, and covered the children’s eyes. At the very least we should have taken his car keys away from him, and called a cab. If we had lived in Edina, or Eden Prairie or some tony rich suburb to the south, we’d have had the police escort him from the building. Instead, we let him skate it off for the next hour.

This is what happens when you live in the North Metro folks. It’s still 1984 up here. Get a mullet, a snowmobile, and a blaze orange hunting jacket and you will fit right in. I preferred to think of it as a teaching moment for the boys. “See? This is why we don’t want you kids drinking before the game! Save the beer, and whiskey until the after the game.”

Drunk Ref Dad fell so many times I lost count. Half of the game he was flat on his back, or pulling himself up on the boards. We should have charged extra for the entertainment. It was like having the San Diego Chicken out there. Minus the Cocaine, and the Chicken Suit.

As a proud Dad, I am happy to report that 20 Prospect Jr. now leads our team in scoring. He scored our one and only goal. Unfortunately, our El Norte Droogs were beaten soundly by the Ex-Urban McMansions. It’s tough for us older, inner ring suburbs to compete with those 5 year old towns full of three car garage, multi level homes on treeless lots. Until we start recruiting our Hispanic and Somali kids into hockey, the demographics are in their favor.

But we still kick their ass at Quarters, and Beer Pong.

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21 thoughts on “Life in El Norte

    • Thankfully the kids were well padded, and smart enough to stay very clear of him on the ice. I think he was only a danger to himself. (But aren’t we all)

  1. The most epic kind of drunk is a drunk on skates. As long as he took them off before he drove his family home all should be fine.
    Sadly, I’ve been there.
    Not on a rink in front of groups of smiling families but out with my friends on a Saturday night skating in the ice cold holding hands with my equally smashed boyfriend. Thankfully, I’m a decent skater and never got a serious injury but what a stupid moron I was.
    I love that you guys shrugged and let him keep going out there. That is all kinds of awesome!

    • I have never been drunk on skates. I’ve been drunk on beer, wine, and just about every kind of liquor imaginable, but never skates.

      Oh, wait, that’s not what you meant by “drunk on skates”, was it?

      let’s start again.

      I’ve never been drunk on skates. I’ve been drunk on bikes, cars, go-karts, skis, planes, boats, waterskis, jet-skis, and just about every other contrivance known to man, but I’ve never been drunk on skates.

    • Yes indeed. All referees and coaches need to fill out a waiver for criminal background checks, before we are allowed to participate. No criminal background checks are required for parenting.

      I feel sad for the kid. He really seems like a decent kid, who just happens to be saddled with a F-up for a Dad. Youth sports have turned out to be a positive self esteem builder for my parenting skills.

  2. liquid courage strikes again. i understand why you let him go on, but do me a solid and if we’re ever shopping together, don’t let me drink beforehand. my budget can’t afford the outrageous beer buys. trust me on this.

    • I thought we all did great budget wise and got points for remaining upright until the wee hours. Well, you remained upright, I kept falling down because my shoes were wobbly and those subway grates are uneven.
      Tom, why in the name of all that is holy were you and Keeping You Awake NOT in NYC in August?
      No ice except for inside the drinks and you would’ve been able to take the required photograph with the lesser version of the Naked Cowboy. Also, there was a cake in the shape of a Unicorn.

  3. The highs, lows, joys and drunken tomfoolery that is children’s hockey. Bantam, Novice, A, AA, AAA, AAAAAAAAA.

    I know of one woman who drinks pre-games because she is embarassed at her kids’ hockey skills (that one troubles me deeply).

    It’s so political, but the kids love it. I watch now and again to support my niece and nephew, but the politics and stress of it all are really overwhelming at times.

    YIKES.

    At least he had a good excuse for falling on his arse so much. I wouldn’t have a good excuse.

  4. Pingback: The Youth Hockey Cult « 20 Prospect

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