“Giving your son a skill is better than giving him one thousand pieces of
gold.” –Chinese Proverb
Often times, a father passes a passion to his son – a love of sport, music, adventures found outdoors. More rare is the occasion where the son passes a passion to his father. It does happen, however, and this is the story of one of those occasions.
Georgia native Todd Cormack (49) became a hockey fan as a kid – due solely to his following the Atlanta Flames. (Founded in 1972, the franchise moved northwest to Calgary after eight seasons.) Loving the fast pace and physicality of the sport, Todd played in neighborhood streets using old fashioned roller skates and homemade sticks. The Flames left Atlanta in 1980, the same year Todd started college. With his team gone, he quickly lost interest in the sport. Indeed, he did not play another game until his son, Austin (15), started showing interest in taking to the rink.
A Father Teaches His Son
Austin began the sport at age six (at SGAA in Snellville) by playing roller hockey using inline skates. Right away, Todd felt his son was not being coached in the best of ways. But not wanting to be simply a “complaining parent,” Todd volunteered to be an assistant coach. As it turned out, Todd received a telephone call the day before the start of Austin’s first season. It was a call to action. Todd was told, “We need a head coach.”
And so started the father/son Cormack duo. Learning as they went along (Todd learning to coach and, in turn, Austin learning to play), both have not only remained in the game, but have become “barn regulars.” Readily admitting they had a lot to learn, through the years they have been blessed by spending a lot of time together. They agree it has made for a close relationship.
Todd learned the ropes as a coach – reading, surfing the web, and attending coaching clinics. His instincts told him that the littlest ones – like Austin at the time – should just learn to skate and have fun learning the game. As the players get older, the time comes for more competitive play. So Todd stepped up his coaching accordingly. He loved the days he coached Austin. He’s loved coaching all the kids he’s come to know.
New And Rekindled Passions
Turns out, Todd became a great coach – teaching Austin the skills he had taught himself all those years ago – and much more. By the age of 12, Austin began playing on ice – a faster and much more physical form of hockey – and he started to get serious about his play. He still plays roller hockey on occasion, but ice is now his main focus. Ice hockey, he says, “is the most exciting sport there is.” He plays at The Ice Forum in Duluth (the practice facility of the Gwinnett Gladiators), and The Cooler in Alpharetta.
A rabid Chicago Blackhawks fan, Austin has always played goalie. He is on several teams, including Brookwood High School (both ice and roller) squads, as well as other travel and league teams. Coincidentally, Austin is coached regularly by Dan Bouchard, an NHL standout (including a goalie for the Atlanta and Calgary Flames), the same Flames player who was Todd’s boyhood hero.
One moment stands out to Austin as a turning point in his play. At 14, he went to an Atlanta Thrashers game and got to see its opponent’s goalie, Cam Ward (Carolina Hurricanes), play up-close. Austin remembers, “I wanted to be just like him. He seemed to care more, to try 110 percent.”
Unfortunately Austin is currently not playing due to what may be a serious high ankle injury. Now undergoing testing and reviewing treatment options, he is hoping to recover and resume play – trying to keep the puck from sliding between the pipes. Austin would love to play at the collegiate level, where it is exclusively ice hockey. And he has caught the coaching bug. He and Todd are currently coaching together. Austin also gives talks at camps to young goalies. (It seems dad has passed a passion to his son after all.)
Coming Full Circle
Todd has come full circle, it seems. He is now coaching exclusively the 8U teams – the little guys – kids that are now the age he was when he played in the street all those years ago. And he has continued to play as well – now in several adult roller leagues at SGAA. His passion for play is as strong as ever. “I live for the nights I get to go play hockey. And I’ll play as long as my knees and hips will let me play.”
True passions never disappear forever. Sometimes they will stray temporarily, but they never wander too far. In the case of the Cormacks, the passion fruit didn’t fall far from the tree. Of course, a family tree’s roots run the deepest.
Written by Reg L. Carver
Reg L. Carver is a writer and designer from Johns Creek, Georgia. You can
find him at www.reglcarver.com.