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Hockey and Me

December 31, 2012

Well, 2013 is almost here. And what am I most excited about? Hockey! No, not watching the pro’s and wannabe pro’s hurl and slam around the rink – me – playing hockey!

I have been playing recreational hockey with much the same group of women since 1993 – making it almost 20 years since we laced up the skates together. And I am “no spring chicken”! I am thrilled, excited and grateful that I am physically able to play. But just as important – that the opportunity is there for me to play – for me – a woman.

Why hockey? Girls played hockey only on backyard community rinks back when I was a kid – and not where I grew up. So, there were two kinds of skates – girl’s skates (figure skates) and boy’s skates (hockey skates). There were so many things and attitudes to change back in the 50’s and 60’s and 70’s… (don’t get me started!) – and I have seen a lot of changes – but the blossoming of women in sports is one big change that I can revel in. I can remember running through the early morning streets of a university city back in the early 70’s and having a teenage boy yell “lesbian” out his door and into the street after me. A police officer once stopped me back then to ask if there was anything wrong (OK, so I had crossed against the light ) and when I explained I was running for exercise, he suggested I use the track.  I am still a runner.  Imagine those things happening to a female runner today! Women have been playing hockey in this town since at least the 1890’s but we had to fight to get icetime for adult women early in the 1990’s – but we got the time on the small kid’s rink late on Sunday night. Now there are lots of women playing in lots of icetimes on the adult ice sheets.

But, why hockey?

Skating hard in crisp cold air – chasing the puck – deking – the slapshot- scoring!- or stopping a great player from scoring by playing defence without “taking” anyone out – the almost tribal friendship of playing on a team – competing hard against another group of women – the joy of winning a close hard-fought game – losing a close hard-fought game in those last few seconds – taking yourself and your skill development seriously – learning to take it all with a grain of salt – yelling for the puck – sweating, panting, hurting and “sucking it up” – caring about your team mates – “backing them up” on and off the ice – being part of their lives as people move on or join up.  You know. Playing hockey.

When I was younger (and even now in my fantasies) I pictured myself a star – hair blowing in the wind (OK, we wear helmets) as I take a fantastic shot and score the winning goal. I have mellowed and become a bit wiser now (really!) and I realize that I may seldom win “most valuable player” (although I once won MVP on my birthday). In fact I seem to be in the running for the perpetual “knob award” (don’t ask). But at my age that is OK. Eventually you reach an age where, if you are lucky, people’s expectations are met if you can still show up and play. But by then, they are your friends and all in all, that is OK too.

Hockey Skates

Hockey Skates

All writing and photos in this blog copyright J.A.Siderius 2012

  1. Kathy permalink

    The “knob award”! I’d forgotten about that! I’m glad you are still playing, Jo, and even happier that you are still loving it.

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