It’s been quite awhile since I was engaged in this blog or my social media in general. The reason is….. boredom….. After the T-Birds Hockey season ended with a loss on the last day of the season, I was bored, and wondering what new adventure lay ahead. I felt pretty good about how I’d stepped in after the season started and put some ” butts in the seats” for them, being the team representative to the Bellevue Chamber, and generally talking up the sport and getting people interested in it on the Eastside in general and Bellevue in particular. My workout routine got pretty messed up during the weird hours I worked and I really needed to get back into moving my body on a regular basis. I know that I’m sharper mentally if I’m working out and needed a new shot in the arm so to speak.
So, after going to 36 Hockey games this year, and watching these young guys excite 5,000 people a night with a losing club, I wondered….. is it possible for a 55 year old dude, who has only skated about 3 times in his life to learn to skate and play hockey? So I started sniffing around and found learn to skate classes, and saw that there were beginner hockey lessons and leagues for beginners of all ages. My word….. do I dare? First I had to break it to the wife…. 10 years ago it was that I was going to go learn to ride a horse and learn the ways of a Cavalryman. That experience taught me very valuable lessons on leadership, camaraderie and friendship that I hold dear to this day, and I wouldn’t trade that in for anything in the world.
The highlight of that experience was participating and leading a company of Cavalry on the Little Bighorn battlefield back in 2009. I retired from that hobby shortly after that trip knowing in my soul that that was
highlight of my Cavalry experience and there was no way could ever top that feeling in that hobby.
So, back to breaking it to the wife… her reaction was very similar to the horse thing… ” What? Good god… haven’t you gotten over this mid life crisis yet?” I politely pointed out to her that this was a mild form of a mid life crisis and one far less damaging than a motorcycle, chasing vodka and young women, or tens of other things that I could do that would be crazier. But she knew… she knew… I wanted to learn to skate, and if I could, then by Gawd, I was going to go try to play hockey. The biggest question for me was could I learn to skate and could my old body take the beating, could the legs take it?
I signed up for a 7 week learn to skate session at one of our local Ice Skating Arenas, bought a cheap pair of Hockey Skates and went for it. I must say the day of the first lessons, I had the jitters cause I really didn’t know if I could stand on the damn things much less point and move in an intended direction. But, with most things in life, the mind wondering what the worst case scenario will be is much worse than what happens and I started in on this new journey. The people in the lessons were pretty much like me beginners. I wasn’t the worst, wasn’t the best… somewhere in the middle. My two years of working out with P90X sure helped my in the Core strength and leg department however and I pretty quickly started picking up the little things and muscle memory actions needed to skate, turn, stop, etc. I committed to twice a week for 15 weeks, one lesson, and once a week free skate, where I could play, challenge and work out. Hard work, people with much experience skating would give me tips and encourage me to try new things and I started to get comfortable. One of those guys who encouraged me to try it was my friend and dentist, Vidas Cemarka, who’s been playing hockey most of his adult life. I’m sitting in his chair one day and I mention that I’m considering this, he tells me if I ever get serious to let him know because he can outfit me with most of the gear I’ll need to get started. A HUGE obstacle out of the way.
Because hockey gear aint cheap. So, for a case of Fat Tire Beer, he sets me up with everything but a helmet and skates. Talk a bout a great deal!!!
So, I see this flyer… ( that is usually the start of most of our problems huh guys?) and it’s an 4 week beginners hockey course for adults. twice a week for a month, and the flyer claims this beauty…” no previous skating experience needed.”
Well I knew whoever signs up with no skating experience would be in a hell of a lot worse shape than me, so I went for it.
I’ll tell ya it’s a hell of a lot harder to skate and try to hold onto a rubber puck with people chasing and hacking at you like you were a rat on the dining room floor than it looks. All the while the instructors are yelling ” KEEP YOUR HEAD UP!!” And then every time you put your head up to locate a team mate to pass it to, you lose the puck because you weren’t looking at it. But each and every lesson and time you take the ice, you get juuuuussssttt a little better. This class covers all aspects of the game, but it flys by you quickly, and with two instructors to 43 guys and gals in this class, you don’t get much personal time. So it’s important to do a lot of learning on your own time, like most things, the more you put into it the better you will be.
And after half the class was over, a rep from the Greater Seattle Hockey League came by at the end of the class and told us that they’d like to form up 3 teams from this class for their beginners league that starts up in mid May. Most of us realized that were having a great time and took the paperwork and sent it in to play in an organized league.
One of my passions is taking something that is disorganized, or broken and organizing it or putting the things in place to make it better. So, when I got the email telling me that I’m on a team, and our first game is a few days away, and that I wasn’t going to be able to practice with them or even know them b4 the first game, I communicated with everyone and set up a team website and just tried to at least communicate with everyone prior to the first game. And that first game as an eye opener. We didn’t have positions, and if we did, we didn’t know our responsibilities, had no clue where or when we were supposed to do what. I took over the Captains duties, and knew one guys from the class who’d played before, ( he played goalie, but now was a skater) I asked him if he’d coach us, and he agreed. We’ve played two games, lost the first 12 – 2, believe it or not, we all started getting better the second game, we played smarter, better and still lost 10 – 0.
We have the only team without one single experienced player and it shows. We’re practicing now, and have set lines, this will allow each of us to know our roles, and even though were the worst team in the lowest division, were having fun, and it’s quite a challenge ahead of us. We had to find a team name, logo, learn each other’s names and faces and THEN get on the ice and compete with established teams. It’s going to be a work in progress, but one worth working at.
Check in on our Blue Yetis Division 8 Hockey Team from time to time and see if indeed we can meet the challenge of improvement, we’re sure going to work hard at it.