I have to say I do enjoy watching some football on Sunday afternoon, but I really don’t miss hockey at all. I use to watch it religiously for years with my Dad and all the way up to University, but since those days I have really only watched the occasional playoff game or gone to a game when free tickets present themselves. Now with both kids in hockey, I get to spend 6 months of the year tying skates, waking up early to truck them on those cold mornings to an even colder arena. I am amazed at how much they seem to enjoy it, but after having spent almost 10 years working in a rink, it really isn’t high on my list of places to “hang”!
Last year I was coaching my daughter and son at ball hockey and got a bit of the coaching bug back, but also got my competitive appetite going. Another coach had mentioned that London had an overages ball hockey league. But as usual that year I decided I was too busy. However this year, I sent the league director a note and he got me placed on one of the tier-4 teams for the summer league. As it turned out summer league is pretty intense, playing 23 games in 11 weeks, I learned quickly it is definitely a younger guy league, but there are a bunch of us old farts running around to make it look like I belong. However, being 290 and 20 years removed from competitive team play and combined that with never having played official ball hockey, I definitely stacked the cards against myself.
It turns out I had a fantastic time, my team was brutal but I got the chance to sweat my ass off for a couple of hours ever week with what turned out to be a very intense workout. I finished the ball hockey season around 260, and only had a few injuries to show for my efforts. Unfortunately the only thing that I got recognized for was a few elbowing penalties and a plus minus average that might have set a league record worse.
The bad news came in September, that my team no longer felt I could add value to the team and official cut me. Talk about a shot to the ego, the worse team in the league cut me – trust me that one hurt! So I sent a note again to ask for another spot if someone would have one of the worse team in the league cast offs, and since the season started the first week of October, I had pretty much given up hope for a chance to hit the floor again in the winter league.
To my stunned surprise, a few days before the season, the team that beat us in the playoff round in summer session, asked if I would like to play! Cha’ching! Within twenty minutes I was an official member of the Villa Crush tier-4 team. Unfortunately I was out of town because that week they had an exhibition game against my former team and dismissed them 13 to 1.
I showed up for regular season game #1 on Monday, and what a difference. These guys are organized, they have lines setup, they work their asses off on the floor, and they were competitive! Unfortunately, the wheels feel off the bus in the second half of the game, and we had a pretty rough first outing, but the first half was excellent. Tuesday night we go up against the top team from tier-4 during summer session, and the game is intense. Everybody is grinding and we even had a fight break out between some of the kids.
I was out on the floor killing a power play, when the refs called another strange penalty leaving us down two. In the summer league, this was a bad time for me to stay on the floor, because it usually resulted in 3 to 5 goals being scored on us in very quick succession. But, I stayed out, and managed to get a great clearing shot, and we attacked, soon the 2 man advantage was over and to my surprise the game was still scoreless. They managed a goal on a very good screen shot that beat our goalie up high, which no to my surprise I was on the floor for. With about two minutes to play in the game, I find myself on the floor in a power play, and it should be noted in summer league, I spent about 1 combined minute past the center line, do this is highly unusual territory for me. The guys are grinding down in the corners and to my horror they fire the ball back to the point, I manage to coral the ball, and find myself surprised further that I can fire the ball before I get attacked. So I giv’r the patented wrist shot and miss the net by a good 6 feet! However my teammate gladly took the shot and rifled it on net, and then gav’r another whack and the game was tied!
It took 25 games, but I have finally recorded my first ball hockey point! With the game tied, the game finished in a shot-out, and after 5 or 6 rounds or was it 7, I don’t remember, we managed to final score the winning goal! What a blast!
It might seem strange but being involved in team sports again even if it is just a bunch of hockey weekend warriors, is really a great motivator to keep getting involved and teaches you that you are never too old. You are only as old and out of shape as you want to be.