John continued “Emma’s older brother plays Special Hockey, he’s a goalie. A lot of times the organizations affiliate with the local NHL team, and here it’s affiliated with the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s been very, very fortunate. They get all their jerseys exactly like the Blackhawks. They have Nationals, and he’s been to Pittsburgh , Tampa, and San Jose. He was picked for the World Cup team that was supposed to go last March, but it was all cancelled (because of Covid). We had tickets and everything, It was supposed to be a team from Canada, but they wanted to build it up. It was going to be Canada, the US, Russia, but they are trying to build up Special Hockey everywhere.He’ll have other opportunities. So he’s 26, and her younger younger brother plays at Boston University, he’s19.”
Emma had told us she started hockey around age two, and we asked what John remembered about her first starting out. John said
"Yeah, she started late, what can I tell you?" he laughed. "No, it was early, and she picked it up very quickly. She started playing boy’s hockey, because the girl’s was just so lame, and she could handle it on the boys’ side. With he brothers, there’s only like a year and a half age difference between her and the elder boy. So she was kind of like working with him out there (on the backyard rink) as well, the two of them together. She was kind of like the coach, all the time, Miss Bossy Boots. And then of course when the younger guy came along, she took him under her wing as well. So they would run little clinics out there, stuff that she would have to do in her practices. I was also coaching her as well, assistant coaching along the way, so she would pick up all those nuanced stuff coaches would do. And would do that with her brothers on the ice. They were readily accepting, and it’s nice that as a parent you’re removed from it and it’s self running. We were never pushing hockey, just hockey. They tried a lot of sports, some of them they hated, so we dropped those easily. And then we wound up going to music, None of them wanted to do music. So whatever they wanted to do, we would have done and let them take it as far as they could. We were fortunate we had enough money, but it’s an expensive endeavor. A lot of kids, there’s just no way they are going to be able to pull that off."
He added "So we were fortunate, and they helped out by being pretty good, so that helped things. If it’s affiliated with your high school, a lot of time then, it’s subsidized or even paid for. But most of the hockey in the country, and even Minnesota now, is done outside of school, AAA and all. And so you’re holding the bag as a parent. The kids have to like it, and so does the whole family, especially with our kids. Emma was really the first one that did the travel hockey. And then your family, your life, revolves around that. and who you meet, and becomes a lifestyle. There’s a myriad of different people. I just remember traveling, it seems like every Sunday when you’re coming back from Canada or Michigan, it’s always snowing. It’s always the worst weather. Not on Saturday while you’re there, but on Sunday when you’re driving home. So I remember white knuckle driving, The kids aren’t really cognizant of that. But we all came back safely. And when she was playing boys hockey, we went to Minnesota for a tournament. The bus broke down, they had to get us another bus. And it was a bus from like 1952. And it was middle of winter, and they had a bathroom in it made of wood that somebody added on. The seats had these big bubble things in the middle where you couldn’t sit, the seats were on the side of the bus!" he laughed "
We asked John if he had a particularly memorable moment from Emma's youth career and he told us this great little story.
“There was a big tournament, a U14 I believe, in Buffalo. And there we wer, little CYA. Chicago Mission was the big sister, and they usually get all the players. But we were able to make a stand, and keep a lot of the people that lived around here so we had a decent team. So we were up against Mission, Assabet, Mid-Fairfeild, it was the biggest tournament of the year. We came in a won games like 1-0, and Emma would have that goal. And then we’d tie 1-1, and the next game we’d win 2-1 in OT and she inevitably got that goal. Anyway, we won like five games and she scored six of our 8 or nine goals. We just played just such a tight, proper game with good goaltending, and her timely scoring was just phenomenal. We won that tournament and she got the MVP. And the reason I remember it, was you got a free pair of skates from Bauer for that. And she was size 4.5 or 5, and me being the hockey Dad, I knew the break off was size six. At six it’s a men’s skate and twice as expensive. So I said: You don’t want to get some inferior kid’s skate now, you’re going to grow into it. So I ordered a size 6, beautiful, $550.00 skates. And as it turned out, she only makes it up to 5.5! She can never use them, and her younger brother a year later walks right into them. And she was not happy! he laughed. "She’ll remember it, ask about it. It was the only time she won an MVP, or anything like that. She was overshadowed a couple of times, but it was just the touch she had with the puck. That the one time that she really stood out. She had something special there.”