I play hockey. I have played for quite a while now and I love it.
I love it now more than I used to actually, because now it doesn't kill me to play.
Until I was in grade 6 or so I really paid no attention to hockey. I had a sweater or two that my dad had gotten me, but I was pretty much unaware of hockey in general. My dad did have the foresight to attire me in the grab of a winning team as seen here:
Anyway, I only started to like and watch hockey when I was about 11. It would be another few years before I even played hockey, or in fact even knew how to skate. We lived near Buckhorn at the time (Quiz: How do you know you live in the middle of nowhere? You live near Buckhorn) and once we had gotten me some second hand skates we'd go play once a week at the Lakehurst arena. Which was just an outdoor rink. These games were great, usually 8 or 9 people on each team, some stunk, some where really good. I was terrible. I could hardly even skate for starters and stopping was a completely different issue.
I could not stop. At all. All I could do was slow down using the snow plow method or dragging my one foot, even that was poor because I was such an ankle burner.
My stopping revelation would not come until I was 16! I made a rink in the back yard at home, much to the protest of my mom who was certain it would ruin what little grass we had. It was something that had to be done however. My friend Phil went to a church that had a group of guys that would go play every other Saturday (at the time) and I wanted to be in on that. So I made this rink which took days to get the ice thick enough that it was skate-able and on the very first time I was on it, bam, I learned to stop. It was either that or go cartwheeling across the snowy lawn.
Since then I have played hockey in some form almost every year. But I would say that this year is the first year I would actually consider myself to be a hockey player. Why? Because it used to put me in agony to play. I would go play Saturday nights have the shortest shifts I possibly could and come to the bench gasping for air each time. My back would kill me for days after and I would have to convince myself to go and play.
I was a big guy. And though I enjoyed the idea of playing hockey, most of my body rebelled when I made it go through with it. One of the side benefits of losing a bunch of weight was that all these physical things I like to do became so much easier. The picture above was March 2010. The one below is August 2010.
I had the opportunity to play the last few games of a summer men's league. It was fantastic to discover what I was then capable of doing. Still now in February 2011 I can do that much more even its great. I love going to play hockey, that I can skate as fast or faster than anyone on my team, that I no longer die a little each time I reach the bench after a shift.
This year, next week in fact, I'll be playing in a tournament, minimum of 3 games on Saturday (plus our regularly scheduled game Saturday night - but at the Memorial Centre - you should come, bring a can of food for admission) which at this time last year would have been impossible. I am excited. Really excited about the whole idea.