Children’s Sport Connection was inspired by the experiences of a Long Island family. Two brothers showed a healthy interest in sports even while they were quite young. Their parents enrolled them both in an organized hockey league by the time they were 4 and 5 years old. As the boys grew, their love of hockey grew along with them. Together with their parents they made the commitment to attend team practices almost every day after school rather than play idly in the neighborhood. They chose to devote most of their free time, including early morning hours, to their league and travel teams. They attended practices, games, skills clinics, and tournaments. The boys worked hard for their teams, prioritized their time there, and reaped the benefits of valuable lessons born of camaraderie and teamwork.

The family reveled in the boys experiences at the rink. However, all was not well on the home front. After struggling mightily with the heartbreaking decision, the boy’s mother ended her troubled marriage. Although she tried to shelter her sons from the worst of the strain, she realized that the boys were suffering and would suffer further if their unhappy home situation continued. Through endless tears, they all realized a divorce was the best decision for all involved. But their lives would change drastically.

Suddenly alone and deeply saddened, this mother realized that her ultimate goal was to provide her boys with a fulfilling childhood, complete with loving family and friends, and all the experiences and activities that boys their ages normally enjoy. As it turned out, sports provided the answer. Now a family of three, they determined to renew their commitment to the boys’ hockey teams. The mother put aside many of her worrisome obligations and concentrated on making every practice, every game, every clinic, every tournament. The brothers rediscovered an outlet for their own worries and frustrations. Occasionally, their team schedules would conflict. The mother, already stretched thin by life as a single parent, didn’t know where to turn to ensure her boys would not be further devastated.

Once again, their involvement in organized sports enabled this family to find their way. Coaches pitched in by paying special attention to these poor boys who were struggling with an absentee father. Other hockey families pitched in by assisting the mother with carpooling. Young teammates pitched in by befriending the brothers and providing them with a normalcy they didn’t feel with their neighborhood peers. The hockey community pulled together and created a safe and caring environment for a family in need. The boys continued to work hard at the rink and the mother finally saw they were beginning to heal. This brought her the peace she desperately craved for herself and her sons.

Children’s Sport Connection was conceived with families like this one in mind. There are children in our communities who have suffered a family crisis and who would greatly benefit from continuing in their organized sports programs. Broken families, and those in which there is devastating illness, have to make extremely difficult financial decisions. Our grants are designed to help alleviate some of the stress parents feel when choosing whether or not they can pay for their broken-hearted children to participate in group activities. We provide the bridge between life before – and life after – a family crisis by giving the children continuity in their connection to the sports community.