Hockey fanatic Ujaralaaq (Uja) Eno is a hockey mom times four with all of her boys — Shea Karetak, 13, Cael Karetak, 10, Tanner Karetak, 7, and Mitchell Karetak, 5 — loving the coolest game on ice almost as much as their mom does.
Eno was bursting with pride and happiness watching her oldest boy be awarded the junior high Male Athlete of the Year award at Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik (MUI) earlier this month.
Eno said it’s way different watching a game when it’s your sons on the ice.
She said now that her oldest boy is playing more competitive, full-contact hockey, there’s a lot more emotion involved while watching him play.
“OMG, sometimes I can’t even watch,” laughed Eno.
“When they played their first body-contact tournament in Winnipeg it was so hard for me, especially since he’s my first.
“But, at the same time, he’s so competitive, I wanted him to be aggressive because it was his first time and he was kind of hesitant.
“That was really surprising to me, but the hockey fan in me took over and, kind of, trumped the mom in me.”
Eno said she doesn’t know if she’d be able to watch if any of her boys had to play against each other somewhere down the line.
She said having two of them on different teams would be pretty intense.
“I’d say I find it most difficult watching Shea because of the body contact and the fact he’s so competitive and is the most compassionate of the four.
“I want him to be successful so much. It’s stressful as a mom.
“Shea started skating before he turned two. He was always watching his dad and he wanted to wear his skates in the house.
“He wanted to get on the ice right away. It was just natural for him.”
Eno said some young hockey moms just starting out don’t realize how demanding other aspects of the game can become.
She said the one piece of advice she offers the young moms is simply start saving your money.
“It’s not like soccer where you, basically, give them a pair of sneakers and send them on their way.
“It can be a little hard, at times, with the four of them playing. But, on the other hand, with all the travel our boys do up here, we don’t pay a lot extra because of all the fundraising everyone does to help. It’s pretty amazing, all the big-time help and support our young players receive from the community in general.
“The boys are also expected to do well academically and Shea did very well this year in that respect. He did well in both aspects, actually.
“I can’t imagine what they pay in the south. You even have to pay tryout fees there, let alone the extra fees you face if your son makes the travel team.”
Shea said he had no idea he was winning the award until he heard his name called at the school during the awards day ceremonies.
Shea, who plays both the wing and centre positions, sees himself a goal scorer like Auston Matthews. He said it was a big surprise hearing his name called for the award, which made him both happy and excited.
“I think one of the big reasons I won the award was being named captain of our soccer team at the Arctic Winter Games in Fort McMurray, Alta.
“Hockey is definitely my top sport, though. I really like skating, setting-up plays and scoring. This was my first year with body contact. I found it a little difficult at first because I was one of the smallest people out there. I got hit a lot, but I didn’t reallly mind it.
“I strengthened my game by improving my skating ability and learning to move the puck faster this past year. I plan on taking both those skills to the next level this coming year and really focus on becoming more of an overall team leader.”