At this time last year I was sitting on a deck chair at a waterslide park in Phoenix, Arizona, surrounded by people I didn’t know existed two years prior. Two North Shore Winter Club hockey teams’ worth of kids were running up and down the stairs of the gigantic death-slide, hollering for their parents to pay attention, which didn’t happen.
It was hot. Like, 29 degrees hot.
I remember thinking to myself, even though we didn’t win a game in the tournament (the year previous our atom team lost in a shootout in the final, so I didn’t feel like a complete loser), we were so fortunate to share this experience together.
I’m sitting beside people who might disagree with how I run the team from time to time. I’m sitting here in Phoenix with a group of hockey parents, relaxing after an exhausting tournament.
This is the life. And I owe it all to hockey.
And oh yeah, it’s Valentine’s Day, I have a phone call to make.
Here’s a few other reasons we all love hockey.
The Crew. Beer league hockey players can attest to the fact there’s no replacement for a group of guys in the dressing room. In fact, I’m pretty sure that team last year would have preferred singing and dancing in the dressing room instead of playing the actual games.
The Cause. Playing your heart out for something greater than yourself is how we learn to become contributing members of society. Sure, the line between team-conscious play and self-serving goals often blurs, but it’s when we capture the essence of team spirit that we’re truly living. Cuz you’re not going to do life by yourself, just like you can’t do hockey by yourself.
The Energy. We’ve all said and done some less-than-advisable things in the heat of the moment. The great thing about hockey is that it offers an arena where this pent-up energy is welcomed. It offers a release for our aggression. A big hit, a scrum, a shouting match - these are things that aren’t accepted anywhere else in society, and rightfully so.
The Dedication. The hockey season is a long and difficult trial, and it can sometimes feel like you’re trapped in a never-ending cycle of consternation. But that’s only when you’re feeling sorry for yourself. It’s an accomplishment for young hockey players simply to emerge from the grind and it doesn’t matter if they’re A1 players or house players. It’s a journey for everyone, and it’s one worth taking.
The Arguments. For you beer-leaguers out there, imagine facing your job with the same passion with which you face a hockey game at 11:30pm on a Tuesday night. It just feels good to get heated sometimes, right? For minor hockey players the same rule applies. Again, hockey provides an avenue to get the demons out of our system.
The Blank Canvas. You know the feeling. Skating out onto a fresh sheet of ice, sharp skates, a newly-taped stick in hand, just cruising around. It’s like you’re flying, free from emails, free from responsibility, free from your kids asking for money. When you’re skating, nothing can touch you. And you’ve got a blank slate with which to make your mark.
So, who are you spending Valentine’s Day with? I’ll be at the rink.