Not long after I dropped out of figure skating class, I learned about and started attending an evening ice hockey 'school' for adults. Think of this as ice hockey practice, for hockey wanna-bes! From these sessions, I latched onto a group of guys who rented their own ice for "stick and puck" practice. I went to that 'school' and attended those pick up games for many months, right through the summer and fall. In the winter of 1993, I joined an adult ice hockey league, and was put on a D-level team called The Boston Heat. (D-level represented "beginner level".) We had uniforms, we hired a coach, and our games had regulation clocks and referees. We had a great great time playing organized ice hockey. I wore the number 25, my age when I started to play the game of my dreams.
During one game, I remember jumping on the ice for our own warm ups. Our team skated around in a circle, shaking energy into our legs. I noticed a few spectators, their faces planted on the glass, looking inside at us. They were probably family or relatives. We glided by these onlookers. I glanced backwards at them as I passed, remembering something.
I remember attending a hockey game in college, and I was down at ice level, watching the team go through warm-ups. The team skated around in a circle and I pressed my face to the glass, watching their smooth strides. I watched closely as each player passed, looking at every detail: how they held their sticks, how they stretched themselves while skating. One of them, skating quickly past me, took a fast glance backwards in my direction.
The game felt so far away back in school. But now there I was, playing the game. I was living that ice dream of mine. The more I peeked over at those spectators behind the glass, the more I remembered that I was once there, wondering how to get to the other side. I wanted to offer this advice to them: you can get there. It is possible. Take small steps. Be deliberate. Commit.
The start of the game would have drowned out those thoughts. It's only now, years later, that I am able to ponder the journey, and how wonderful and special it was.
For the month of January, I'll be blogging about ice skating, and my love for it.