Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Puck Dreams

People who've never played hockey really don't know what they're missing. I started "playing" about 14 months ago, and have since become addicted to the sport. Ever since I was a kid I wanted to play, but due to circumstances beyond my control, the money just wasn't there. Now I have a decent job, and I'm just another junkie, looking for his vulcanized rubber fix two or three times a week.

Before I started playing last year, I had probably put on ice skates once or twice in my entire life. All I knew was that I really wanted to play. So, with a bonus that I received from work I went out and bought all of the equipment that I thought would need. Shoulder pads, elbow pads, shin guards, the whole works. I didn't skimp one cent. I'll never forget the first moment that I put on all of the equipment. Sarah just laughed and laughed. I had dreamed all my life of putting on the entire hockey garb so I could stand and look like a hockey stud. I looked at the clock. 30 seconds, still laughing. 1 minute, tears streaming down her face. 1 minute 30 seconds, I start to untie my skates and Sarah fell over. I have to love that woman. I had aspired my whole life to play hockey, and as soon as I get dressed for it, my wife laughs at me. I understood why when I looked in the mirror. I was a total doofus. I wanted to be Gary Shuchuk, or Pat Flatley, or any of my Wisconsin hockey idols. There is a certain way that hockey players carry themselves when they wear their equipment, and looking in the mirror, I realized that I had a long way to go.

So, I started to practice skating with a friend. Over time, I started to fall less and started to learn how to pick up more and more speed. Then I started to fall more again. It's a pretty cyclical experience. Eventually I learned to stop, without use of the walls, and I started to realize how much fun the game could be.

After I got my feet under me a bit more, I joined a co-ed scrimmage league in our area. Without a doubt, this is the best thing that I ever could have done.

There is one thing that you need to know about women that play hockey. 50 percent of the women that play hockey are married, and the other 50 percent are typically dating each other. This was quite a revelation to me. I found this out first hand when I was sitting on the bench one night and one of the players from the other team skated up to one of the other women and said, "You just look so damn cute out there in those breezers."

What was more entertaining to me was the fact that it was at that point that I realized, these were the people I should be playing with. I've played flag football with guys, basketball with guys, volleyball with guys, and softball with guys. You know what I've realized? Guys suck. We're all overly competitive and we treat every single moment of our sport playing lives as if it were the most crucial moment in our existence. We push each other, we kick each other, and for what? Just to feel a little bit better than the guy that we just dumped to the ground.

As for me, I think I'm going to go out and shop for some new breezers. The ones I wear now make my ass look too big.


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