I was 14 when I fell in love with hockey, a bright-eyed teenager just about to begin high school. I’d never been interested in the sport before so my parents, when I approached them about maybe learning, had been rightly apprehensive. Not long after falling for the game, however, real life took over and I found myself with barely any time to watch, let alone to try to play.
Eleven years later, I’ve found my passion for the game again; and with no one there to tell me no, I’ve begun to learn to play.
So far, I’ve skated in my hockey skates 8 times; of those 8, I’ve been in full hockey gear 3 times and 2 of those times were for an Adult Ice Hockey clinic. Each time I’ve stepped onto the ice, I could feel my heart pounding and a constant thought of "don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall," play through my head. Well, I’ve fallen, but I’ve also learned how to get back up.
When you’re an adult, trying something new for the first time can be scary and any small thing can be disheartening. Falling, not being able to stop, having too many pucks slide passed you’re stick… All of these things can make you feel like you’ve failed and that trying again is too hard. In hockey, though, a tough skin is necessary and if it’s really something you want to do, learning to get back up is the only way.
It can also be incredibly empowering, trying and possibly accomplishing something you may or may not have been told you’re too old to begin to do. I do wish I’d learned as a teenager, because I feel that would’ve helped with body control and actually managing to stay on my skates, but it’s not so bad as an adult when you’re surrounded by the right people. It’s also not so bad when you know that you’re helping to inspire others.
Before the first session of the hockey clinic, the small studio rink had been filled with a children’s team practice. Another woman skating in the clinic and I had been getting into our gear, sitting out in the main room, when the kids began filing out. I’d just pulled up my hockey pants and she was sitting on the bench lacing her skates, when a young girl, fresh out of her own gear, sauntered over to us. She put her hand out to the other woman for a high five before smiling the biggest smile I’ve ever seen and running back to her mother. Neither of us had been quite sure about what had just occurred so we smiled at each other and continued changing. The young girl’s mother came over to us just before we went to take the ice and told us how excited her daughter was to see two woman lacing up, that she doesn’t get to see that often and how it made her feel, knowing she might not have to give it up…
I’m glad that little girl didn’t stay to see me take the ice — with how much slower I skated than the rest of the group, with how I still don’t know how to stop — but knowing that me going out to achieve one of my own dreams can inspire someone else? Well, that’s kind of incredible.