When my wife and I decided to have children, I thought for sure at least one of them would be a boy. I assumed I would spend countless hours in a cold hockey rink, as it has always been a tremendous piece of my own identity. Don't get me wrong—I wasn't praying for a boy. I just wanted what every parent wants: a healthy baby. In 2000, I was blessed with my first daughter, Alexa, and then again in 2004 with my second daughter, Isabelle. That's when my life began as a dance dad.
My wife was an incredible dancer. So both my daughters followed in her footsteps into a world I knew nothing about. Regardless of what my daughters' hobbies would be, there was only one choice, and that was to support them and become their number one fan. I began spending countless hours at the studio several days a week and at all hours of the day. I was blown away at the hard work, dedication, strength, creativity and commitment this art required. What did I know? I spent most of my life in a cold locker room that smelled horrendous. Clearly, their dancing ability came from their mother. So as their careers progressed, so did the commitment and stress. As a father with no background in dance, I wasn't able to offer much to my girls. But what I could give them was my time, my silliness and a hug when I thought they needed it. I witnessed a lot of tears over their 12 years of competitive dance, and I even learned a thing or two.
The most important thing I've learned is that my girls need their dad as much as they need their mom. I can't do hair and makeup or rhinestone a costume the way my wife does, but at 5 am in the hotel before 15 hours of competition, Dad is good for ironing, getting breakfast and cracking a joke to keep it light.
If you’re a dad and you have a child that dances, don't underestimate how much it means for your child to see you being part of something they love regardless of how you feel about it. Dance is not a "girl thing." It's about family and supporting your children even if they don't play hockey. I know as my girls get older and they eventually start their own lives, I will look back on their childhood and cherish every moment of their dance careers—not because they were successful, but because I was there for it.