Monday, November 23, 2009
My Pick-up Hockey Ladies Nights
The reason I use the term "old" is because to be a great professional hockey player, one must start this game at a fairly young age and we're talking four, five and six year old tots starting out on ice with their jerseys hanging below their knees. I know this because it's a riot watching the little ones while my kids also participate on Monday nights.
It takes oodles of hours, practice, patience and determination to perfect each and every move to master the game, as many would say. However, you don't have to be a professional to enjoy it fully, as the love for anything freely flows and surfaces if you just want it enough. You can create just about anything with the power of your thought and great intentions.
It started about a week ago before my very first game and it was a simple thought that had surfaced out loud in front of my husband one afternoon. I said, "I wish I would have played hockey" and wondered if there were women out there like me who were wishing the same thing. He didn't laugh nor shrug his shoulders, he actually encouraged me to research more about it. Well, the computer nerd that I am and my friends would agree he didn't have to tell me twice. Before I knew what was happening after a simple research on the net, I shot off an email to the president of a Women's Hockey League in Brantford and I had a reply within an hour to show up for a game within a couple of days.
This all happened so fast yet it was exactly what I wanted though didn't know how much I actually wanted it, until I was right in the middle of the rink passing the puck to a bunch of geared women on ice that looked pretty darn intimidating. Whoa! What a feeling, "I'm actually doing it" I thought to myself, just a second before I fell right on my fanny and hit my tailbone. It was a hard landing that took the wind right out of me for few seconds, though getting up a little shaky, I continued pepping myself like nothing happened.
I play in the women's pick-up hockey and the ladies on the ice are very good. Many of them have awesome skating and stick handling skills I can only hope to attain after my share of practice. I was very surprised to find out a handful of them started at my age in the last year or two and this game of hockey for women must be a new craze. It may very well be all the baby boomers of my era surfacing, whose passion for the game was always there and just never had the chance to play just like me.
Players are super protected by all the padding of the hockey pants, shoulder, shin and elbow pads, along with a helmet to protect the head. A fall such as mine would have normally hurt pretty badly if I wasn't wearing all the gear, not to mention a bump on the head with a solid fall without a helmet could cause a concussion.
There is also a lot of weight to consider when all the gear is on the players' body. It is an average of 35 to 45 extra lbs according to the weight of the bag that carries it all, and of course this depends on the choice of product and brand name, as some more pricey items are much lighter with today's technology.
One part that took me by surprise was getting out into the stores and putting on the special hockey equipment while getting a feeling of what this may be like before I set my foot on ice. In comparison, it's nothing like it. At first I thought I might back off this crazy idea, however my determination and a child like desire was unstoppable. Trying on the gear in the store to the actual feeling being on ice in the middle of a game where your heart is thumping and nerves are overwhelming your every thought of, "OMG, what am I doing here" is surreal, amazing and a must. I'd do it again in a heartbeat!
If someone would have asked me few months ago if I saw myself going after the puck on the ice like a mad woman, I think I would have laughed yet secretly pondered the thought. Well, it's not a secret anymore. It did happen for me and I'd like my story to be an encouraging one for other women out there who have been wanting to do something yet are unsure if they are too old or not, or care too much if their friends will think they are nuts.
See, I don't consciously think about my age when making decisions of what I want and don't want in life. It comes naturally and it is a good thing yet it can be very spontaneous and surprising even to me. After all, age should have no bearing in regards to our desires and actions. It is how young we feel at heart or otherwise. Something else crossed my mind when I made this decision and it was my health and lifestyle. I'm naturally a busy-bodied individual full of high energy with excess to burn and fairly fit in terms of physicality. I am in average shape and I think if I wasn't it may have hindered or influenced my decision.
I was always fairly thin all through high school and college years though motherhood has added many excess pounds to my body over the course of 6 years. Loosing over 85lbs in the last 4 years after the birth of my 2nd child has been a huge eye opener in terms of excess weight, lifestyle and feeling healthy. I cannot imagine feeling this weight on me again and carry it every day, and I better understand how difficult, challenging and overwhelming weight loss and obesity actually is. It absolutely affects your life and how active you are or choose to be and I may not have made this choice if I was still 85lbs heavier. Not because of anything else other then the lack of energy and sluggishness I felt when I was heavier.
Now last but not least, I was also unsure what my friends would think of my newfound sport. Even though I really don't care what people think, yet found myself thinking they will most certainly know I'm just simply nuts and have totally gone over the bend. Then I realized they already know I'm a nut bar so why not show them just how nutty I really am. Here I am, bearing my naked soul in front of the world exposing my desires with personal achievements to a handful of fans that actually read my published work.
Women play hockey because they can. It's a different age and defined by the freedom of choice and not the sex of the individual. I love that. I know I'll never make it into the NHL however if I could rewind my life just a little, I think, "NO" I know I would have played this sport at a younger age only to perfect each and every manoeuvre, step, hop, stop and backward, forward glides. It's never too late to give my daughter the chance to do so and I may just be reliving my life through her eyes.
About a half dozen games later, I love playing ice hockey more then ever. Along with my exhilarating Sunday nights I found myself on skates twice per week at the local adult skating rink. It fits perfectly into my schedule as I have both kids at school and giving myself something invaluable. That's 3 extra hours per week on my skates and my legs are feeling stronger then ever. I feel not only more confident in my skates just after few weeks, I also get a chance to relearn the crossovers for left and right, as well as skating backwards which needs more improvement of course. My stops is where I need all the work as I believe this will tremendously recover my games with the ability to stop where the puck does and agility to follow it with confidence. For now, I take the crashes into the boards and the bruises that go along with them as after all I am a newbie though pleased to say not a hockey virgin anymore.
Another fantastic perk my hockey nights have developed is craving more of the cardio vascular exercise. I find myself yearning the rush and sweat I get on my Sunday nights as a player gets and doing something about it. I jog every other day in between my skating to fill in the void and find it very satisfying. Just 10 to 15 minute run fills my body with wonderful endorphins I normally had to endure in a 30 minute TAE-BO work out with Billy Blanks. I love doing that one in the summers. Mind you I love the workout, my jogs with my new four-legged loyal friend are bonding and I find the exercise equally satisfying with less time dedicated.
I wouldn't have believed how much sweat pours out of the body when the hockey hour is over and the women are ready to take off their gear. We are soaked from head to toe and simply exhausted yet feel absolutely awesome and it's seen in every smiling face. Now, I can't speak for everyone, though I can honestly say I feel fantastic about it. My skin feels tight from the icy cold air, my legs and abs feel firm from all of the funky moves and stretches, the extensions of muscles I didn't even know I had and the intense workout is surely felt. My heart is racing a mile a minute with the pulse overexerted and of course there is also the soulful satisfaction without a price tag. It is rewarded and smiles with content and pleasure with the very last finest drop of sweat.
I can only hope women out there take the chance at something they've always wanted to do like playing ice hockey even if it is in their 40's and I wholeheartedly encourage them to do so. It's not only an amazing feeling, it leaves you feeling empowered and embodied full of great emotional satisfaction that can only be felt individually. Believe in yourself and don't let anything stop you, as it's never too late to start something new.