When New Jersey native Jason Silverstein married a Canadian, settled in Toronto and had children, he figured it was time to try something as Canadian as maple syrup: Ice skating.
“I’ve never skated in my entire life. It’s my first time putting skates on. My first time stepping on the ice so, I’m excited and nervous at the same time,” Silverstein said.
“You know Toronto is like a Maple Leafs’ town, right. It’s the hockey. When the Raptors are good – awesome. But like, it’s a Maple Leafs’ town and where I’m from, it’s like a Yankees and a baseball town. So, low and behold, I never put on skates. It never came up,” Silverstein added.
Enter local Toronto hockey enthusiast and part-time referee, Jeff Jones, who started playing hockey when he was four years old. As the son of immigrants from the former Yugoslavia, Jones explained his father, in particular, wanted him to “fit in.”
“I really had no choice in the matter. I was just forced to go and play.”
After Jones and Silverstein got acquainted, it’s time to lace up.
“How tight? Should I pull the laces tight?” Silverstein asked.
Lucky for Silverstein and his four-year-old daughter, Gemma, the evening’s lesson took place on the uncrowded and freshly flooded rink at Toronto’s Greenwood Park.
“I think my four-year-old can probably take a bump better than I can at my age. I’m nervous I’m going to break both my wrists,” said Silverstein said.
Once father and daughter laced up, it was time to hit the ice. At first, Jones borrowed a skate trainer from the rink so that Gemma had some immediate support.
“Just take little steps,” Jones said.
Then, after Jones offered Gemma further instruction on how to get up after falling, it was time for Jason to try.
“So, you want to use the inside edge. Stagger your feet in a ‘V’ and we want to use the inside part of our skate to push,” Jones said.
After about an hour on the ice and no broken bones, the father-daughter duo made a plan to return in the coming days.
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