Natasha Dominaux leads quite a happy, yet busy, life. Besides being mom to 11 year-old Riley, seven year-old Lilly and four year-old Ryder, she’s also a proud, yet hectic-scheduled, hockey mom!
Not that she does everything alone, mind you. Hubby Dwayne is around when he can. In fact, he’s Riley hockey coach right now, though working outside the province for six months of the year means that there’s times when Natasha has to wear the pants – or in this case, the Superman cape, in the family.
“Riley has been in hockey for seven years; two in Timbits, two in novice, two in atom and now he’s in his first year peewee. His team is the Marystown Mariners,” Natasha began.
While Riley’s team is in Marystown, the family’s home is in Bay L’argent, about a 45 minute drive away from the nearest rink, down over a highway, and along a rural, often isolated, winding road.
Natasha takes driving up and back with three kids in tow all in stride. “I’ve been lucky this winter. It hasn’t been too too bad,” she said with a laugh. Natasha says she “lucked out” when her mother bought a house in Winterland. Now sometimes, especially when Riley has to be on the ice in Fortune for 7am, or when the weather’s bad, they can stay nearby. “We have a lot of ice time in Fortune; two hours on Saturday and hockey again in Marystown on Sunday. And he doesn’t miss a whole lot due to weather. We’ve come down not being able to see two feet in front of ya, though,” she shared.
Why do they do it? “He just loves it,” she said, and that, she continued, makes the sacrifices worth while.
Natasha said that at first, she wasn’t sure if hockey was something her son would embrace. “I think he was iffy at first. When he was in kindergarten he liked it, but cared less if he went or didn’t. Back then it was the activity part of it we liked because here, where we live, there’s no structured activity. It was a chance to get out and meet new people. He was a player, yes, but he was didn’t always have the interest. He’d go, but wouldn’t go for the puck. He was laid back and timid a bit.”
Husband Dwayne had always loved the game and played net when he was younger. Dad’s past influenced Riley to give being goalie a try. “When he said he’d do net, I said, are you crazy? Thinking no, that’s not for him. Well, he absolutely loves it. He has been goalie the last two years. Even tried out for all star team as a goalie.”
Now that the family is in full hockey mode, Natasha says she has entirely embraced the hockey mom life.
“I love tournaments. The atmosphere, the people you meet are from every where. Riley has even done two years at Danny Cleary’s hockey camp in town. While he’s at camp, I get to spend time with friends that I’ve met through hockey. And I love spending time at the arena. You get to talk to people you don’t see on a daily basis, but who you’ve come to really get to know over the years.”
‘Sucker for punishment’
It’s a good thing Natasha enjoys the rink. Daughter Lilly is now in figure skating and has her own ice time, plus Ryder is starting hockey in September. “I’m a sucker for punishment,” Natasha said with a laugh.
Especially pocketbook punishment. While Natasha shares that registration fees in the area are reasonable, (and nanny pays those) travelling back and forth is what adds up, not to mention the equipment costs. “I’m back and forth to the arena four or five days a week. Even with gas prices lower, it’s still alot. And equipment is horrendous for Riley since he went goalie. We used to pay $300 to outfit him, and last year we spent $2,100 on equipment. This Christmas, we paid $900 for new blockers, pads and gloves. Oh, and another $300 for new skates.”
Still, even with all the time – and the money spent, it’s all worth it.
“I can’t say he’s a shy kid, but Riley takes time to warm up to new people, but he’s formed a lot of friendships through hockey. And he is good with his team and loves being part of his team. Hockey helps bring kids out of their shell. And being part of a team, they all have to work together. That’s been the best,” she said.
Now that he’s off work until April, and Dwayne has become their son’s head coach, will she skip a few practices and stay home and just relax? No way, she laughed. “I still go every time. I don’t miss a game.”