A little more than a year ago I started teaching myself to skate at the outdoor rink near my house. Five months ago I enrolled in a beginner hockey program for adults called Discover Hockey. Two months ago I started playing on my first adult hockey team. Going from not knowing how to skate to playing on a hockey team once a week has been quite the transition. I wanted to document what learning to play hockey as an adult has been like.
Perhaps the predominant emotion I’ve felt throughout this process has been excitement. I’m not exaggerating when I say that for the first few months hockey night was the best night of my week. The rest of the week I would be day dreaming about getting back on the ice. Driving to the rink I would feel a giddiness that I hadn’t felt in years. While there has been a natural tempering of this passion, game night is still the best part of my week. Hockey is a thrilling game to watch and an even more thrilling game to play.
I’ve played a wide swath of sports and I can say without hesitation that hockey is the most tiring of all of them. I used to snicker at the minute long shifts of hockey. I thought it paled in comparison to the 80 consecutive minutes of rugby that I was playing at the time. But, wow was I ever wrong. If you’re doing it right hockey is incredibly tiring.
An unexpected element of the experience was the hockey culture. A hockey team (even a division 10 beer league) breeds a lot of camaraderie and teams bond very quickly. Even a hockey locker room has a certain je ne sais quoi that I was not expecting. Growing up I never understood why kids who played hockey behaved different than everyone else — now I understand where it comes from and the hockey locker room is ground zero.
It has also been a very embarrassing experience. You have to swallow your pride to be able to waddle out on to the ice ready to fall more times than you would like. You have to be okay with the fact that most ten year olds playing hockey are better than you and are probably better than you’ll ever be. That can be tough, but thankfully everyone in the program had a really good attitude about it.
Most of all I’ve found the experience of learning to play hockey as an adult to be gratifying. I’m proud that I stuck with it and pushed through all the consternation and embarrassment. And I’m thankful for all the new friends I’ve made. Caleb two years ago would not be able to believe what I can do on the ice now.
What did you never learn to do but wish you could? Is it time to make that happen?
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