Howard Huskies score family points on the ice

The Halls learn to skate around schedule of seeing 3 brothers play

At Play

December 28, 2005|By JEFF SEIDEL | JEFF SEIDEL,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Bob and Lucinda Hall didn't know much about ice hockey when they came to the United States about 20 years ago. She was from England; he was a native of Scotland. And neither thought too much about ice hockey -- or any sports, for that matter.

But that changed when their eldest son, Hugo, started taking skating lessons when he was about 6 years old. Hugo liked skating, but he soon realized he was the only boy in the class and informed his parents that ice hockey interested him. He loved the sport immediately, and his two brothers followed in his hockey skates.

"We didn't come over here for hockey," Lucinda Hall said with a laugh. "We never thought about hockey -- soccer maybe, but not hockey."

All three play in the Howard Huskies program, and Hugo also competes for Atholton High School's club team. Getting their sons to the games can be challenging. Case in point: The boys recently played in six games at five rinks in Maryland, Washington and Virginia during a 48-hour period.

Bob and Lucinda Hall rely on the kindness and help of parents on the various teams who don't mind carpooling. Neither is thrilled with missing some of their children's games, but they can be in only one place at one time.

The schedule two weekends ago started with Hugo, a 15-year-old sophomore at Atholton, playing for the Raiders at 3:45 p.m. Friday in Columbia.

Next came a game for Toby, a 12-year-old seventh-grader at Lime Kiln Middle School. His team is the Huskies under-12 travel team, and their game was at 4:50 p.m. Saturday in Laurel. Hugo came next with an 8:30 p.m. game in Ashburn, Va.

Fergus is the youngest of the lot. An 8-year-old third-grader at Fulton Elementary School, his game was at 9 a.m. Sunday at Piney Orchard. He plays in the Huskies cross-ice format for younger children.

Toby had another game at 10 a.m. at Fort Dupont in Washington before Hugo finished the weekend with a 2:30 p.m. game in Laurel.

"We just can't physically get to all of them," Lucinda said. "We rely a lot on carpooling, although we'd rather be at all of them."

Said Bob: "We do try to do our best to get to as many of them as we can. I'm kind of getting into it."

Hugo has been playing the longest. He is a solid defenseman who was picked as a team captain for the Huskies. The occasionally crazy schedule doesn't bother him at all.

"It's just good to keep busy," Hugo said. "It's not that bad because I enjoy it. It's actually more of a positive thing [because] it's all fun and a good group of kids."

Toby said the family has to give up some social things because of the running around, but that doesn't bother him.

"We can't go to the movies much, but that's fine," Toby said. "It's worth it."

Fergus is most concerned about learning the sport that his older brothers play. He gets to see his brothers' games sometimes and just works on having fun.

"I like the skating and shooting the puck," he said. "I'm improving."

At the various games, there's also some down time that Bob and Lucinda use to do work. Most children have to arrive at games 30 to 45 minutes early to get into their equipment, and they stay several minutes afterward to get dressed again.

Lucinda works part time in a teaching/administrative position at the University of Maryland. Bob Hall works at the National Institutes of Health, and both like to take advantage of the fact that they can get online with a wireless card at the Columbia Ice Rink. Bob said he likes to write lectures there and do other work while waiting for the games.

This isn't the only thing that the Hall boys do for fun. All three are involved in the Boy Scouts -- Hugo is an Eagle Scout -- and try to get to as many of those activities as possible. However, Bob said that sacrifices must be made sometimes because the combination of hockey and Boy Scouts takes up time.

"As the captain, Hugo can't be showing up late," Bob said. "The Scout people are very good about it. We do miss out on some of the Scout trips."

Bob and Lucinda are getting a much better understanding of what can be a complex sport. Like most parents, it took a while to figure it out, but now they realize how much time and work it takes to master the game.

"It was amazing to me that people could actually skate and control the puck at the same time," Bob said. "It's magical. My family is amazed that they can do it. They think it's incredible."

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