MOST EXPENSIVE SPORT
Coach Rich Brouwer and parent Paul Hockaday are quick to
point out Wilmington is a small market for the rapidly growing
sport. And it’s expensive to play. The ice alone runs $400 per
“Hockey is no doubt the most expensive sport for kids to play,”
For families with kids who get hooked on the sport, the associa-tion
offers financial aid.
No one knows how expensive the sport is more than Liz Day,
a Topsail Middle School science instructor. Day’s son, Christian
Day, a 14-year-old sophomore at E.A. Laney High School, not
only grew out of his equipment at an early age; the 6-foot and
1-inch, 190-pound athlete also progressed beyond the local level.
There are not enough players at his age and skill level to comprise
an elite team, so Christian tried out for and was invited to play
at the junior level for the Charlotte Checkers. On weekends, his
team competes against other elite-level Junior teams in neighbor-ing
states from Georgia to Virginia.
One weekend in November, Liz and Christian traveled to
Chicago to participate in the CCM Youth Elite Hockey World
Invite — the largest youth hockey tournament in the world. One
of 10,000 players on 526 teams, Christian says it was the biggest
and toughest tournament he’s ever played. The competition was
that much more intense and some of the players were just crazy
fast skaters, he says.
The cost of Christian’s hockey gear quickly adds up to thou-sands
of dollars: $250 for a helmet; $500 for skates, on clearance,
though they run as little as $150-$200; $150 per stick, and players
need two at all times in case one breaks. Add to that the mouth
guard, the shin and knee guards, the elbow guards, the padded
pants and gloves, plus the gear bag itself, and the total is well over
$1,000 — not to mention that during the month of October
alone, Liz and Christian spent 6,000 miles on the road. Add to
that the cost of meals and hotels. But she does not begrudge the
“All of that time was with my son,” she says. Some hours of that
invaluable one-on-one time is spent talking about the future —
the possibility of Christian attending private school, where he can
play hockey every day; the choice between travel hockey and travel
baseball, his summer sport; and the chance to enter college on an
athletic scholarship that would support his academic education.
“The only downside to it,” Liz says, “is it becomes your life.
Your vacations are where you’re going to play hockey. Your birth-day
presents are hockey equipment.”
Liz Day’s husband, Chris, has been a hockey player since he was
5 years old, so she knew what she was in for when they married.
Top: The Wilmington Icehawks U14 team huddles at the end of
regular weeknight practice. Right: Bob Bateman, in red, sets up a
shot near the centerline.
ALLISON POTTER ALLISON POTTER
WBM december 2018