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A New York Times bestselling author takes a rollicking deep dive into the ultra-competitive world of youth hockey
Rich Cohen, the New York Times–bestselling author of The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse and Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football, turns his attention to matters closer to home: his son’s elite Pee Wee hockey team and himself, a former player and a devoted hockey parent.
In Pee Wees: Confessions of a Hockey Parent, Cohen takes us through a season of hard-fought competition in Fairfield County, Connecticut, an affluent suburb of New York City. Part memoir and part exploration of youth sports and the exploding popularity of American hockey, Pee Wees follows the ups and downs of the Ridgefield Bears, the twelve-year-old boys and girls on the team, and the parents watching, cheering, conniving, and cursing in the stands. It is a book about the love of the game, the love of parents for their children, and the triumphs and struggles of both.
Memoirist Cohen (Sweet and Low) scores with this heartfelt account of watching and agonizing over his 11-year-old son's season playing kids' competitive hockey. Starting with April tryouts and ending with a soul-churning state tournament in March, Cohen provides a fascinating glimpse into the players' egos and excels in profiling the parents and coaches who live and die with each shift in their children's fortunes ("Coach Hendrix... poured all his anger and disappointment on me the fact that he'd not been able to play hockey as a kid, the fact that his older daughter had quit and his younger daughter had not made Double A"). The author is not immune. His son Micah's role on the team changes as the season unfolds, but Cohen, who ends up seeing a cardiologist due to stress from watching the games, is the one who's most affected. "I knew I had lost perspective," he observes after enduring the drama of tryouts. "I knew none of it mattered." Sports parents will find an empathetic ally in Cohen, whose lean and lyrical prose covers the action on the ice and in his heart. "You want what's best for your kid," he writes, "but who even knows what that is? Maybe it's succeeding in hockey, maybe it's failing." Cohen's soulful, poignant examination is a winning testament to the ways parents often live for and through their children.