I played my last hockey game and hung up my skates in March of 2010 when I was playing for the ZSC Lions in Zurich, Switzerland … or so I thought.
On Wednesday, January 5th, US Olympian Erika Lawler and I became the newest members of the Boston Blades who play in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Sharing the status of “newbie” with Lawler was an honour in itself, but I bet you’re all wondering how someone just “becomes” a part of such a prestigious team.
On Tuesday, January 4th, I went up to Tewksbury, MA to conduct a highlight video for the Boston Blades. As Editor of WomensHockeyLife.com, I do my best to get around to at least one team a month and create, edit and produce a highlight video. I had previously talked with Boston’s General Manager back in the summer because I was intending to try-out with the team, but for various reasons, I wasn’t able to. However, they still owned the rights to me as a player. So, the night I was there getting footage for the highlight video, the GM asked me if I’d be interested in finishing out the season with the Blades. Somewhat confused I jokingly asked him when I should start working out, to which he replied “tomorrow”. Little did I know that I would be getting an email the next day with the itinerary for the upcoming weekends games in Toronto.
Now, keep in my mind I hadn’t played in a highly competitive game since March of 2010 (10 months ago) and I now have to play in one just 4 days away with unbelievably talented players. After I stopped shaking and thinking of any and every excuse not to do it (because I was scared), I decided that the best way to get over this fear was to jump right in. So, on Friday I made the 9hr drive up to Toronto (from CT where I was at the time) and spent the night with some family friends, the Bottings (Beevo and Harvey). I had to drive myself up and not take the bus with the team because I had previous commitments that had me back home in Ottawa on Sunday. Because of this, I was only able to play in the game on Saturday. Call it fate, call it luck, call it what you want, but I was blessed with the opportunity to continue to play the game I love and do it with and beside some of the best female hockey players in the world.
Now, there’s this unexplainable thing that happens when you’re a part of a team (if you’ve ever been on a team, you know exactly what I’m about to talk about). Your teammates become family and without even knowing much or anything about them, you’re devoted, loyal and respectful of them. You’re already willing to give the shirt off your back to them with no questions asked. It’s one of the main reasons I fell in love with this sport. You’re instantly a part of a family. You create these bonds that last long after the final buzzer. When my GM asked me for a favour to pick up one of my teammates (whom I’ve never met) from the airport on Saturday morning, I didn’t hesitate and was happy I could help. My teammates flight got in at 8:30am and thankfully I was staying with the Bottings who had a vehicle with 4 wheel drive because a big snow storm hit Toronto Friday night and we woke up to a Winter Wonderland. So, off Harvey and I went to the airport to meet and pick up my teammate.
Her flight got in a bit late, due to the weather, but we got her and brought her back to the Bottings house where they cooked us a delicious breakfast. The four of us hung out all morning. Amongst the several conversations we had, my teammate found out that Harvey loves hockey jerseys and has a Boston Bruins sweater-jersey, which he wore to the game later that day. My teammate went and grabbed our Boston Blades jersey from her bag and Harvey ran upstairs to put on his Bruins jersey. Before you knew it pictures were being taken, laughter filled the room and it was like the 4 of us had known each other for years.
Having to pick up Angela Ruggiero that morning at the airport was a blessing in disguise because I got to learn a bit more about the team, the league and hang out with one of my teammates before I even played in my first game. Angela took me under her wing for my first day as a Boston Blade and I am beyond thankful to her for it … and so were my nerves.
The game itself didn’t turn out as we had hoped, losing 5-3. My legs were burning the entire game, my lungs could have used the assistance of an oxygen tank and yet I was on cloud 9 and would be for days to come. I went back to the hotel with the team that night and had dinner with them. What a great group of girls! The best part of the meal though … the chef of the restaurant gave us a tour of the kitchen (thank you Cahow), which finished with a complimentary piece of cheesecake that was covered in chocolate on a stick – absolutely delicious! Anyway, I got to know a few more of my teammates on a more personal level and am excited to continue to get to know everyone else.
So here I am a part of a team again, a very talented team at that, who made me feel beyond welcome on my first day as a Blade and reminded me of why I love to play the game and how thankful I am that this league exists for all of us to continue to live our dream.
A very proud Blade,