It all started with Alex saying “I wanna be a goalie!” Scared, my wife and I tried to trick him out of this decision so many times, but nothing we could think of would stifle his enthusiasm. “You know, goalies don’t score very much, if ever.” “Goalie skates are different than what you’re used to wearing.” “Kid, those pucks come at you FAST. If they catch a weak spot in your gear, it’s gonna hurt. A lot.” And then, finally we had to own up to the reality of why we felt he couldn’t be a goalie. “Look, Bud, goalie gear is really expensive. There’s a Try Goalie for Free day coming up. We’ll take you, and if you still think that this is something you want to do, we’ll figure it out.” We weren’t scared that he’d get hurt. We were scared of how much this would cost.
Goalie Day came and even then, I was still trying to find a way to get him to change his mind. Alex was so excited to put on the gear that he was allowed to borrow from Jake Kielb's Hockey Foundation, which actually turned out to be Jake’s personal gear. I still remember his beaming smile as he was being ratcheted into the gear and how he lumbered onto the ice for what would be his first time as a goalie. Despite Alex’s excitement, I told the instructor “put some heat on him. Let him know what he’s in for. Don’t be shy.” I didn’t want Alex to get hurt. I wanted him to understand. I cringed every time the puck would THUNK! into the pads and I flinched with every glancing CRACK! off the helmet. He came off the ice and doffed the helmet like a pro. He was drenched in sweat and grinning from ear to ear. In that moment, I knew that his wildest dreams and our worst nightmares were coming true. I knew that I couldn’t take this away from him, but how were Jen and I going to pull this off for him?
As Gina and I were helping my son out of her son’s gear, she told me that she helps to provide used gear for those families with would-be goalies… for free. No catch. No deposit. We didn’t even need to return the gear when we were done with it. I couldn’t believe that anyone would make it their personal mission help foster the fledgling hopes of youth hockey in the desert. A couple weeks later, Alex and I met up with Gina and she had put together an entire head-to-toe gear package for Alex. He couldn’t wait to get home and get geared up. As Alex started to grow out of this gear, the cost of buying him new gear was easier to bear since we could buy one piece at a time, instead of an all at once expense. Jen and I know that we could not have helped Alex fulfill his dream of being a goalie were it not for Gina’s generosity. Tagging along with Gina’s generosity, over time, we slowly donated out the gear she had given us to other families so that their players could live their dream without breaking the bank.
Alex’s excitement was palpable. He loved hockey. He lived hockey. He would even stay up late at night to do yoga in his room, long after he was sent to bed so that he could “be a better goalie.” He would be so proud to know that his legacy is helping other players and their families bring their dreams to life. Jen and I feel so honored to have the Alex Bush Memorial Goalie Gear Scholarship fund in our son’s name, so that other kids can grow to be better players without their parents having to worry about the expense.