KIOWA — When the Cox family moved from Frederic, Wis., to Kiowa in July 2011, son Patrick was about to start the second grade. But having spent his first seven years in snowy Wisconsin, Patrick had already fallen in love with hockey.
Since the move, Patrick, now a 9-year-old fourth-grade student at Kiowa, has found new ice on which to skate: the Oilers Ice Center in Tulsa.
“You just get to have fun doing what you want to do,” Patrick said Thursday.
Patrick is in his second year playing for the Tulsa Junior Oilers, a team of 9- and 10-year-olds that practices twice a week. Each season starts in September and also includes at least two weekends a month playing other teams of similar-aged kids.
Sometimes that just means a home game against Oklahoma City; but sometimes it means a trip to Dallas, Minnesota and even Chicago.
“In Chicago, they were a good team, and they had good sportsmanship,” Patrick said.
“We went to the (Chicago) Blackhawks game, and we rode a bus that was supposed to take only 30 minutes but it ended up taking two hours because of traffic.”
Of course, Patrick can’t make these trips to Tulsa by himself. One of Patrick’s parents — Valerie Cox, 43, or Thomas Cox, 48 — takes him, and the family has also gone with him to games both within and outside of Oklahoma.
“It gets long, tiring, but he loves to do it,” Valerie said.
Patrick said he wants to do it “until I just can’t do it anymore.”
Thomas Cox added, “He keeps his grades up, so that’s another agreement he had to do. And seeing he’s on the superintendent’s list, I can’t argue.”
Valerie, a paraprofessional for Kiowa Public Schools and a consultant for Tastefully Simple, Inc., said when she searched for youth hockey leagues two years ago, she could only find teams in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Dallas. She chose Tulsa because it was the closest.