Like most Americans, the life of 26-year-old Michael Miggans has been turned somewhat sideways due to the coronavirus pandemic, not only putting a halt on his career as an on-ice official, but disrupting routine life as a husband and father.
Since mid-March, Miggans and his 2-year-old daughter, Maison, have been staying with his in-laws about 10 minutes away from his home in Hurst, Texas, a city that is about 25 miles west of Dallas. The reason? His wife, 26-year-old Madison, is a nurse in the labor and delivery unit at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Grapevine, Texas.
While Madison Miggans has yet to be reassigned to handle COVID-19 cases — although there have been a couple come through her department — she has isolated herself to protect her family. As her husband and daughter have taken refuge with her parents in Grapevine, the Miggans house has become a home for her and two other nurses, one of whom is Madison’s sister.
“Change is tough in general. And uncertainty is tough,” Michael said. “But I think you start living it and you get used to it, and it almost becomes second nature. And at the end of the day, we're just looking out for [Maison]. That's, that's really all that matters. So we, me and my wife, can sacrifice seeing each other a little less if we know for a fact that means our child's safe. So I think that's kind of the biggest thing that pushes us through this. It's not easy by any means. No one says anything's easy in the current situation, but you just make the best of it every day we can.”
The Migganses stay connected, with Madison, via FaceTime, often reading a bedtime story to Maison, who is just beginning to talk and sing. Michael helps keep Maison busy by watching “Sesame Street” and “Peppa Pig,” and singing songs from those TV shows. The family also has dinner together at least once a week in the in-laws’ yard, making sure to practice all safety precautions, including social distancing.
“I give her all the attention that I can and that she deserves,” Michael says of Maison. “I mean, right now the stay-at-home father, I'm not reffing hockey, I have no obligation to be anywhere. So 100 percent of my attention is on her all day long, which is great. ... I've gotten more dad time than I ever imagined I ever could and I'm realistically very thankful for it.”
Miggans hasn’t put hockey totally out of his mind. He was recently named the 2019-20 winner of the Ben Allison Award, which goes to an official in the USA Hockey Junior Officiating Development Program who represents great character on and off the ice.
“This is arguably the greatest thing that's ever happened to me in my officiating career,” said Miggans, whose two great friends Bobby Esposito (2018-19) and Riley Yerkovich (2017-18) have also won the award. “It's such a great award. I wish I knew Ben Allison [who died in 2015 at age 20] because I've heard just incredible stories about him. But the award itself is voted on by referees who are full time in this program and even being nominated for that was a huge honor and for my peers that think of me as high as they did first off was shocking. I didn't even think I would get nominated let alone win.”
Miggans, who played hockey in high school and also in college on the club team at Texas-Arlington, is often off traveling, calling games — many times with Esposito or Yerkovich — in the ECHL, the AHL and the NAHL. To keep in shape as he awaits a resumption of hockey, he takes advantage of Maison’s nap time to get in a morning bike ride and an afternoon workout, including weightlifting, plyometrics and yoga.
Balancing his workouts with taking care of Maison and being separated from Madison all while living with his in-laws has made Miggans very appreciative of what his wife did while she worked and took care of their daughter as he was crisscrossing the country for hockey.
Once the pandemic settles down to a point where the couple feel safe with all three back under the same roof again, Miggans will be taking care of a few more details around the house.
“I'm definitely going to tell her thank you a lot more," Miggans said with an appreciative laugh. "I got it all down now, being a dad is second nature and I think what it comes down to is help. The majority of the time, it's just one of us taking care of the kid. It's either I'm at home and she's pulling nights at the hospital or she's at home and I'm in whatever state around the country reffing hockey. And so the more time we spend together after this is all over I think that's the best way to help.
“... There's cleaning dirty dishes in the sink, folding laundry that she's left in the dryer, washing her scrubs that are sitting on the floor. Anything, anything I could do to help her I absolutely will. Because I know now what she goes through all of the time.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.