Today is the natal day of my baby brother, Gomez. Gomez is currently on the road with his daughter, a hockey prodigy who is competing in a national tournament this weekend. She is following in the footsteps, by which I mean blade tracks, of her dad. Gomez began his ice hockey career around the age of ten, if my memory serves me correctly. Being a stalwart lad, he decided to become a goaltender. Unlike most goalies, he worked on his serious skating skills, rather than just acting as an obstacle in the net. Goalies are like drummers- they are always in demand, and they always get 'gigs'.
My favorite Gomez hockey story took place when he was in high school, perhaps fourteen or fifteen years old. He was at hockey practice at the venerable Murray's Skating Center, in the City of Y______. At the end of practice, he was approached by an adult, who was going to be playing in a friendly cops vs firefighters pickup game in the next time slot. The adult, thinking that the brawny Gomez was a college kid, told him, "We could really use a goalie, and you were impressive in the net." Yup, goalies are like drummers. My brother told the guy, "Uh, I'd like to, but I've got to ask my mom." The adult, cop or firefighter, I don't know, was surprised to say the least, "Ask your mom? You gotta be shitting me." Gomez told him, "I'm still in high school." Mom, knowing the value of ice time, allowed Gomez to play with the grownups, and he comported himself well.
He kept on playing hockey throughout college and whenever possible during his military career (a stint at Fort Drum helped in this regard). Now that he is retired, he is playing in an adult league, coaching his daughter's team, and refereeing on both the adult and youth levels. He recently was appointed chairman of the hockey program. My niece has taken to the sport, even playing goalie like her dad. Even though she's still in middle school, she's certified to referee the peewee games, which is a good, paying gig for a kid her age. Like her dad, she's also a STEM whiz, so she wants to pursue an engineering career.
Anyway, Gomez and my niece are on the road, kicking ice and taking names. I can't think of a more appropriate way for him to spend his birthday.