The Life Of A Hockey Wife and MomAn interview with DC's newest hockey wife, Tamara Ribeiro
(Photo courtesy of the Washington Capitals)
As the hockey community had just seen a Stanley Cup playoff come and go, fans wondered what the next season would offer. With the free agency opening on July 1st what would this offer up and would there be any changes that would steer the team in a new direction? Let alone with the impending CBA contract expiration, would there even be a season? Among the Capitals signings was a center that had played for only two previous teams over a 12 year timespan and had established himself as a top center across the league. With 560 points in 737 games, Mike Ribeiro would be coming to Washington hoping to establish his name in a new town. This move would prove a bit more interesting in that the last time he had to move, from Montreal to Dallas, he did not have any children that would be affected by a move to a new town.
After Ribeiro received his new contract he had to prepare to bring to DC his wife Tamara, and their three children. Recently, we sat down and spoke with Tamara to highlight the unspoken but important role a lockout has on the family of an NHL hockey player as well as what they think of DC so far.
- How are you settling into DC? What do you like about DC so far?
“Well its quite the transition coming from Dallas and being there 6 years, raising 3 children, with that’s all they know coming here has been an adjustment. The diversity and culture here is something we adore. Both of us coming from Montreal and it being the east coast you have an area that has a different train of thought than in Texas. Virginia is just stunning.”
- In what ways do you see Montreal being similar to what you have seen in DC?
“Montreal is a melting pot of cultures which I think is similar in DC. You have museums, art galleries and so many interesting and enriching activities to do. I can’t forget about the amount of restaurants that you can find in the DC area. You can find a Greek restaurant as easy as if you want to eat at an Ethiopian restaurant. You know, there’s so much culture. In Dallas, there was Tex Mex or steak.”
- Have you ventured outside of Virginia and visited Maryland?
“We haven’t had any time much since moving to the area. Moving a very large family along with the dogs into a house takes up quite a bit of time. Getting everything together in the new space makes there not much time to go out and adventure like we hope to do soon. We have quite a few future plans to explore the area. One thing though that I love in this area is that the states are so close together which offers so many different cultures and things to do. Our sons for example, when they travel for hockey, we can drive to tournaments as opposed to flying to these events which makes it much easier. This also makes it much easier to have family visit from Montreal since its much closer to DC than Dallas.”
- Youth hockey in the MD/DC/VA area is getting much more popular based on the Capitals. Since enrolling your sons into hockey, have you noticed this immediately?
“Definitely. There are many more kids playing hockey in this area which only helps the local competition. This ends up helping the kids prepare for tournaments when it comes down to it. We have found a great organization, the Reston Raiders, that have been wonderful with us. The boys are on the travel team and in a sense that all fell into place almost immediately when we got into town. It’s funny because school ending up being harder to register for than hockey, believe it or not. The boys are in hockey and my daughter is doing dance for a local studio, so as you can tell it’s already a crazy schedule we have to go by.”
- Mike had gone to Finland during the last lockout in 2004, would he think about doing that again since settling in to this area? Is playing in another league in the cards with the lockout?
“No. He will not go to Europe more than likely. In 2004, we had only one child and I was pregnant with our second son while he went to play in Finland. Then he came back and we were all back together. Our first son was not in school yet so it made it easier. Basically when we knew that there would be no NHL season, we made that plan and stuck to it and it worked. This time around, moving here from Dallas and everything being new, I hope that the more established players will stay here in DC and will not run off to Europe. This will, I think and hope, be an example for the younger players. This is happening a couple years at a time and it’s trying on everyone. No one wins from a lockout when it comes down to it. From everyone that has a job at the arena to the wives and children of the players. No one wins. In 2004 it affected the fans incredibly. That was one of the biggest problems for the league in terms of the health of the NHL during and after the lock out. Hockey isn’t one of the bigger sports in the United States so it only affects the fan base, the people working in the arenas, and families of the players that much more. No one wins with a lockout. I do hope that there is an agreement that happens between both sides in the near future because no one wins here.
In my viewpoint of someone looking from the outside in, by being on a strike and standing your ground the players hopefully will be able to work out a more favorable agreement. Instead of running away to go play for another hockey league, the players need to stand their ground here and strike a deal sooner than later. With leagues in Sweden, Switzerland and the KHL for example. There are many rules that are being put in place that are preventing a vast majority of players from even playing overseas. This will I think help in the negotiations since the players will be able to focus on getting a deal done.”
- Is the mindset among the players a more optimistic “we are going to come to an agreement” or something else a bit less optimistic?
“Well Mike has been in the league for 12 years and we are at a different stage in a players career, in terms of already making a name for himself. I think it’s different for younger players who still have quite a bit to prove. If we were in that situation then we totally would probably be scrambling to make sure there is a backup plan. In terms of continuing to play hockey and not have cold legs if there were to be a deal that was agreed upon soon. Mike is a veteran and we are looking at it differently and I think in that we are more optimistic that it will happen.”
- Enough about the lockout, are you excited to buy a new set of Louboutin heels to go along the theme of Rock the Red?
“That’s funny. Don’t we all want an excuse to buy a new pair of shoes? I have to be honest, if I were to say who the shopper is in the relationship it would have to be Mike. I have to stop him from shopping. Don’t get me wrong I love nice things, but Mike will call me up and say “Hey I found these shoes that you would love” and then just get them.”
- Does he have many pairs of shoes? Does he have the new Nikes? Jordans?
“Oh yes. He has too many shoes. I must have given away 24 pairs before we moved from Dallas to DC.”
- Have you gotten used to DC traffic yet?
“It’s definitely a lot more congested than we are used to. Old Dominion gets backed up quite a few times so I’ve figured out some back ways to take in order to get around. I’ve been stuck on 495 a couple of times and can only be “happy”. I’ve seen quite a bit of road rage here so I can say that I’ve seen it all already.”
- Are the kids looking forward to having a winter?
“They totally are looking forward to it. We have a hill in the backyard and the kids keep asking “Is it going to snow?” and I tell them to keep praying every day and it may snow. One thing I heard from our realtor was that if it snows around here that people just leave their cars on the road and just walk away since they can’t handle driving. In that sense it’ll be just like being in Dallas and we will be the only ones on the road since we were born to drive in the snow, being from Canada and all.”
- I’ve seen Mike tweet about playing NHL 2012. Would you say he’s a gamer?
“When we first met back when he was in juniors, I would definitely say he was a gamer. Now that he has boys that are gamers, I’ll go down stairs and I’ll see that the three of them (Mike included) are playing Black Ops or NHL. Since NHL 2013 came out, they went out and got it and I’ll probably catch him and the boys playing.”
- Being from Montreal, what would you think if the Nordiques came back?
“Well look at how successful the move was for the Jets from Atlanta to Winnipeg. That was absolutely amazing. Imagine Quebec City? When we were in Montreal, the place was sold out every single night and would without a doubt be the same in Quebec City.”
- When moving to a new place do you typically seek out the girlfriends/wives of the players or do they seek you out?
“We’ve only gone through two trades with us being in Montreal six years and Dallas another six years. I hope we are in Washington six more years and then call it a day. When we were in Dallas we had children so I met parents through friends from school. There are always game nights where you watch the games at other player’s houses and get families together. This [the Capitals] seem to be a younger team so I don’t think there will be many kids for ours to play with but you know women stick together through hockey. In Dallas, we all watched out for each other and recommended the best places in town especially for the new women that came into town. You also meet the girlfriends and wives at community service events the teams put together.”
- We all saw the whole Ribeiro family come out to help with the DCPS Beautification Day. Can you offer any insight as to what community service means to your family?
“We really appreciate doing things like the DCPS Beatification Day. The minute Mike told me about the event, we were all so excited to do it. The entire family wanted to go out and be a part of something special in the community. We were a part of the Dallas Stars community organization where we put together Christmas baskets as well as other events, and have really jumped at these opportunities. There are families that have next to nothing and to be able to provide help makes it so much worthwhile to do. At the DCPS event it was great to have our kids along so that they can get a sense of what volunteering is and what it means to the community. Giving something back to society is really the message I drive home with my kids when we do these events. The energy at the DCPS event was so amazing and positive. Everyone was so great and it was so natural and wished the event went longer that day. We left the event and felt great about what we had just done and I think our kids got the same feeling out of doing it. Just a great opportunity all around and we look forward to doing more.”
In speaking with Tamara, I could tell that Washington DC has gained not only a great player on the ice in Mike Ribeiro but has also added a great wife, mother, and community figure in Tamara Ribeiro. Welcome to the nations capital.