The end of the hockey season also means the beginning of the next one, as club team tryouts are held the week after the final games. This spring, two of my children (child No. 2 and child No. 4) went through the hockey tryout process, commemorating the 10th anniversary of my oldest son’s first "real" sports tryout (a tryout with cuts). Robert (now 18) was 8 years old back then, and he was trying out for our town’s summer travel baseball program. For my wife and me, that tryout was an initiation of sorts, and I remember it as though it took place last week.
"Tonight, you need to take Robert to his summer league baseball tryouts, OK?" my wife said to me on a Sunday morning in May 2008. No problem, I replied. I assumed that every child would be placed on a team appropriate for his level of skill, and that my baseball-loving son would simply be auditioning to show coaches which team he belonged on.
Fifty-six kids showed up for that first day of tryouts at a field with four diamonds. Each checked in at a table and received two stickers with a number — one for the front of the shirt, one for the back of the shirt. Then they all found a partner and started warming up. What a sight: 28 pairs of 8-year-olds playing catch, each with visions of playing on a summer travel team, hitting .400, and eventually playing for the Boston Red Sox.