Sunday, August 11, 2013

Chapter 25: Prep Ho-Go East Young Man

Prep Ho!
Leaves starting to turn in New Hampshire

I should say that the rationale for considering and then sending our son off to prep school in New Hampshire involved more consideration than just the hockey opportunity.  Yes that was the main driver. We were not happy with his local public school.  While attending one of the better schools in San Diego, he was still jammed into classrooms with 35+ other students and was falling through the cracks.  We felt the smaller classes and academic environment of a boarding school would benefit our son.  We also weighed the cost of going to Los Angeles to play AAA hockey and determined that even with the hefty tuition for prep school, it wasn't really that much more than what some families were spending for the hockey and all the travel associated with Tier 1 midget hockey.

So we made the calculation between the hockey opportunity plus the social and academic benefits and decided that he would take the prep school route.  The global economy and my net worth were both teetering on the edge of an unforeseen cliff.  Had I known what was about to transpire I would have to seriously rethink having committed to this course.  That's a different story.

I remember when my son was very young hearing about Wayne Gretzky leaving home at the age of 14.  My wife and I couldn't imagine sending our little boy off to live with strangers at such a young age.  Now at the age of 17 I had no qualms.  I was excited for him and the opportunity that waited. 

My wife and Max flew off to New England.  After thinking about it for such a long time my kid was officially a preppy. And I was officially in debt.  My wife, who had been a stay at home mom for much of the past seventeen years decided to find a way to help pay the freight for this new venture.  She looked for a business idea. That little idea has grown now into an amazing business she started in the middle of the Great Recession. 

Doug with Sidney
I don't recall much of the details of his send off in the Fall of 2008. I was in the midst of dealing with the collapse of Bear Sterns that week.  I called Max today to see if he had any memories that stood out about that trip.  At first he said no but then he remembered. I had booked the flight for him and my wife on Priceline.  Apparently I didn't pay very close attention to the details. As it turned out their flight to Boston went by way of Orlando.   What should have taken 5 hours took closer to 12. Oops, my bad.  They were not happy with me over that one.  
Doug's Lake House

I have a close friend from West Haven High School. His name is Doug Hentz.  Doug lives up in Meredith, NH on Lake Winnipesaukee.  Doug and his family would become Max's local surrogate parents. Meredith, NH is about a half hour away from Tilton.  Max would stay with the Hentzes from time to time and I stayed with them during my many visits over the next couple of years.  They were lifesavers. 

This time Kyle and Max stayed with them for a day or two before Kyle dropped Max off to start school. I'm sure it was an emotional farewell, but I have no details of the event. 

For the next few months I would need to get my hockey fix from our local tier 3 junior team. My friend and Max's previous coach, Bruce Miller made a couple of investments.  He bought both the pro shop at the Escondido Iceoplex as well as the junior team.  Both were purchased from MF Schurman.  In fact, I was part of the investment group that bought the pro shop. 

There were three of us; Bruce, me and Pierre Dufour, that took over the skate shop.  Bruce has a background and a great eye for retail and display.  The next month involved 70 hour weeks remodeling the store. I put in approximately zero of those hours, as I had my full time job at UBS.  

After a month Bruce and Pierre bought me out of my interest.  I got a great return on my investment as well as free skate sharpening and hockey gear at cost. I learned to sharpen skates and I'm sure I saved a ton of money over the next few years.   So I was out of the retail business after barely a month.  By the way, Bruce recently sold the store and my little deal was left out of the equation.  Bummer. 

Back to my hockey fix.  So Max was gone.  Bruce now owned the junior team.  He changed the name from the Surf to the Gulls.  It was a bit of a coup for him to have the rights to that name since it had been controlled by the ECHL minor pro team up until they recently folded.  

AJ Grabowski-Our Billet playing Thursday night pickup
with a borrowed bucket
I stayed involved.  A lot of the kids I'd coached and Max played with were skipping U18 midget and going right to the junior team.  Bruce asked me to handle the video for the team.  So I did that.  And I continued to be a billet house.  We took in two kids.  AJ from Rochester and PJ from Billerica, outside of Boston.  PJ didn't last long. But he owned a car.  AJ lasted all season.  He had to rely on team mates to give him rides to the rink after PJ left. 

Besides doing the Gulls video I was continuing to referee adult league games.  I made plans for the first of six trips this season to visit Max and watch him play. The first trip back was for a Columbus Day tournament.  It would be with the NH Monarchs U18 AAA team during the split travel season prior to the start of the prep season.  

I'll pick up with this trip in the next chapter. 

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