Jenelyn Russo

By Jenelyn Russo

Jenelyn Russo

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Most Improved

A few months ago, I began writing about my six-year old daughter’s interest in learning how to play ice hockey. We signed her up for the Learn to Play program supported by USA Hockey at KHS Ice Arena in Anaheim. After graduating from that program, she began playing in the CDHL in-house recreational league. Here is another update on how she’s doing…


As the CDHL Mini-Mite Knights finished their final game of the spring session, Coach Tim gathered the players to award them their medals of participation. But before he handed out the medals, we could see from the glass that he was bringing our six-year-old daughter to the front of the group.

He handed her a piece of paper. We couldn’t see it from where we were standing, but as she skated off the ice, her piece of paper and medal in hand, she showed it to us with an enormous smile on her face.

Most Improved.

Our little hockey player got the award for Most Improved Player, not only for her team, but for the entire Mini-Mite division. And, in addition, it was the only award given out for that session. To say that we were proud parents would be an understatement.

The best part has been seeing how proud our daughter is of the award. She earned it. She’s been out there every Wednesday night and Saturday morning, with the boys, skating and shooting, working hard to get better. When she started at this level in February, she wasn’t a very fast skater and it frustrated her. But after some tears and some pep talks, she decided to face it head on and get out there and play. At the Mini-Mite level, they don’t have goalies and they don’t keep score, but I know she feels like she won.

And for the couple of weeks that followed, she couldn’t wait to tell everyone she knew. I remember we were carpooling with a neighbor friend of hers and I could hear her talking about it from the back seat.

“I won an award for hockey,” she told her little friend.

“What for?” her friend asked.

“I was the Most Improved,” she said with a smile.

“That’s cool,” said her friend, who really had no idea what that meant. But it didn’t matter. I could tell my daughter was beaming with pride to be able to share her good news.

This next session, in addition to playing at the Mini-Mite level, she’s giving the Mite level a try. It’s U8. They play half ice instead of cross ice. They play with goalies. The kids are older, bigger and faster. It’s definitely a challenge and a situation where she will be pushed to get better. I was (and admittedly, still am) apprehensive about it for her, but she doesn’t seem the least bit phased by it.

I think one of the best parts about being a parent is watching your kids personalities come to life, right before your eyes. In the case of our six-year-old, she continues to surprise me. While our older daughter is a true combination of John and me, both in looks and personality, our younger daughter is her own unique self. Not at all a tomboy, she loves pink and glitter and Hello Kitty. She has freckles and a slight red tint to her hair. She has a quirky sense of humor and a competitive spirit.

And she loves getting out on the ice to play hockey.

You go, girl.


If you have a child who is interested in learning how to play hockey, check out these links for more information on how to sign up for a free Learn to Play program near you.

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