JERUSALEM — Hockey runs deep in the Kearns family. Evan and his brother Kenneth played together at Colby College now two decades later, they are back on the ice in the 21st Maccabiah.
Their young children were sitting in the stands. Kenneth’s children Charlotte, 6, and Bennett, 4, were up against the barricade when their dad was placed in the penalty box.
“Daddy waved to me!” Bennett told his mom, Diana. His face glowed with excitement as he sported a white sweater with blue USA text.
Bennett was flanked by his sister and cousin Parker, 7, Evan’s daughter. The trio had red, white and blue stars, the letters U-S-A and their fathers’ jersey numbers painted on their faces.
They took in the full atmosphere. They danced to the arena music, Bennett begged his mother for popcorn and cheered as Evan scored each of his three goals.
This was the first hockey game for Bennett, Parker and Charlotte. It was also the first time they watched their fathers play the sport they love. They picked a good game to attend as the US Masters 55+ hockey squad defeated Team Europe 16-1 on July 17 at Pais Arena.
“Kenneth has family in Israel and he wants his children to be exposed to the important piece of history of Israel,” Diana said. “We thought this was a perfect opportunity to come, be with family and his brother on the team.”
It is seldom that both families get to see each other in the US. They live about six and a half hours away from each other. Evan’s family lives near Boston and Kenneth’s side is in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania so reuniting in Israel excited everyone involved.
Parker was elated to see her dad skate the ice. She swung on the handrail while Bennett begged his mother for arena popcorn.
Kim went to college with Evan and Kenneth and enjoyed seeing the rejuvenated energy between her husband and brother-in-law. It brought back vivid memories of time at the rink.
“I’m so proud of him and I love that our kids are able to see him do something he’s so passionate about,” Kim said.
Kenneth used the word “special” to describe the experience.
“My kids have never seen me play so I can still suit up and spend some time with the kids … and have them see me play hockey,” Kenneth said.
This trip was special for Kenneth because it serves as a return to the sport. Maccabiah caps a four-year hiatus from hockey while he attended medical school to become an orthopedic surgeon.
The experience in Israel
Another first for the Kearns family was making the trip to Israel and the decision was a lot to mull over, especially with the young ones.
“If you told me a year ago we were going to Israel for two and a half weeks, I would say you’re joking,” Diana said smiling while Bennett was clinging onto her leg. “But here we are.”
With Kenneth being a surgeon and Evan an attorney, long vacations are few and far between. There were pros as well as cons to the trip but one positive was shared between both families — they wanted their children to experience Israel.
“It’s special to be here together and doing something as a family and exploring the culture,” Kim said.
So far, the Kearns family have hit all the big spots in the country: Masada, the Dead Sea and have more tours planned as the Jewish Olympics continue. Parker said she enjoyed the food tour they went on.
With their children so young, the memories of visiting the historical sites may fade as they enter their youth but Kenneth hopes one memory will always remain fresh.
“They saw Daddy play,” he said.