Meg Hishmeh isn’t only a mom to three boys, she’s also been their coach and officiating partner. Hishmeh, who currently coaches a boys’ high school team in New Jersey, even found herself coaching against two of her sons this past season.
Meg Hishmeh and her son, Blake, will spend Mother’s Day doing exactly what they’ve done for the better part of the past month. Blake will do four hours of therapy at a rehabilitation hospital in Denver, then they’ll watch the hockey games together.
Don’t worry, the story will have a happy ending when 18-year-old Blake is discharged May 20 and returns to finish up his high school year in New Jersey. And with him will be Meg, who took a break from her job as World’s Busiest Hockey Mom™ to help usher her son back to what it is expected to be a full recovery from a traumatic brain injury after a back flip off a jump at the Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado went horribly awry during spring break. Blake was airlifted from the ski hill and spent eight days in intensive care before being transferred to the rehab hospital on April 14.
“He’s doing really well,” Meg said. “He still has a ways to go. The brain heals at a much slower pace than the physical side, but we’re seeing improvements all the time and he’s working hard.”
Going back home means Meg will be reunited with her husband, Rob, and Blake with his brothers, 16-year-old Brady and 13-year-old Hayden, once again. There will not be any hockey to play or watch or coach or referee, but soon enough the hockey season will once again be upon them. And for the three boys and their mother, that means a steady diet of playing and refereeing. For Meg it will be back to coaching, sometimes against her own sons, and refereeing, sometimes with them. It’s complicated with hockey intersecting all these family relationships.
On Mother’s Day, we at thn.com tip our helmet to all the hockey moms. But there are hockey moms, and then there’s Meg Hishmeh, a 44-year-old substitute school nurse and hockey coach whose roots with the game run deep. Originally from Grosse Pointe, Mich., Hishmeh played club hockey at the University of Vermont, then turned to refereeing, which resulted in her officiating at the ECAC Division I and III levels for women’s hockey and at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
She’s been just as zealous with coaching, having coached each of one of her sons’ teams for three years. And last year, Hishmeh became the first women’s coach of a high school team in the state of New Jersey when she took over the boys’ varsity program at Montville High School, which was coming off a 4-17-2 season. She led the team to a division title last season, which resulted in it moving up a division this season, which it also won. And coaching a rival high school team created a couple of interesting situations when her team faced Blake’s Kinnelon team in a game it lost 4-1. And in another game, Hishmeh’s junior varsity team faced a squad on which her middle son, Brady, was the goalie.
“Blake was hitting everything on the ice,” Meg said of the game against her oldest son. “He came out all fired up. It was funny because of all his friends were saying to me on the bench, ‘Hi, Mrs. Hishmeh.’ Oh my god, it was so funny. I took it seriously too. I was trying to beat him, but they were the better team.”
The Hishmehs work much better together and the get the unique opportunity to do that through officiating. Like their mother, all three boys are on-ice officials and there was a girls’ Atlantic District championship game this season where Blake was the referee and Meg and Brady worked the lines.
“It was awesome,” Meg said. “We’ve done it two years just for the one game over the weekend, but it’s been really fun. Exciting. Cool, cool feeling.”
It requires a unique level of determination and commitment to immerse yourself as deeply in the game as Meg Hishmeh has. Her husband took up the game in college and still plays at the beer league level, but Meg is clearly the hockey alpha female in the group. Having grown up playing the game with her hockey-playing brothers and her father coaching and having a true passion for coaching and officiating clearly left a mark on her, one she is passing on to her own children.
“We all really love the game,” Hishmeh said. “There’s a lot of respect for the game in our house.”