Buddy Skate 2014 was undoubtedly the largest and best event to date since its inception 12 years ago. Players from the LI Rebels, Lady Islanders, and Junior Royals turned out in force to help the visiting students. Smiles, new friends, and laughter filled the Dix Hills Ice Arena with a glow.
I want to share a story, which I believe is a perfect encapsulation of the event as a whole:
Early in the evening a mother and father entered the rink with their small child who, upon seeing the swell of the crowd, worriedly clutched to his father. Volunteer players guided the parents to the skate rental area, and helped put on and tie the child’s skates; all while he still held tightly onto his father.
This continued as they walked out to the ice surface. Holding on to dad, and with mom just inches away ,the players tried to connect with the child; talking, joking and showing him how much fun skating can be. The child watched, but would not let go of his dad. After several minutes, Coach R skated in to see if he could help. He got down on his knees and spoke with the child, which seemed to lessen his grip on his dad. I don’t know what he said, but the child soon let go with one hand and reached out to Coach R.
With one hand on dad and the other on his new friend, the child calmed down and then let go of dad completely. Coach R picked him up and started skating around mom and dad; first slowly and then much more quickly. Then it came: the smile, which soon turned to a chuckle, and eventually laughter.
If you watch the end of the video you will see the majic happen.