Pineapple Sound

One of my hockey friends posted a short video of a teammate dressed as a pineapple skating around.

I watched it, because who doesn’t love pineapples?

The pineapple turned. The ice crunched under its skates.

I miss that sound.

That sound takes me back to the rink, to all the hours I spent learning my edges, getting comfortable with them, trusting them, and the first time I heard it from under my own skates.

It’s the sound of working hard at something nonintuitive and scary, pushing through your fears of falling, trying, adjusting, trying again, and finally hearing the tiniest of crunches, hope. You just might figure out how to do this.

It’s the sound of improvement, as it becomes louder and more sustained.

It’s the sound of awesome, when it becomes, simply, how you skate.

I’m thankful for this sound, and everything it’s taught me about potential, perseverance, and self-confidence.

Good game, hockey. Filed under Handshake Line.

Go Go Gadget Hockey Stick

Went to an annual Hockey Day party yesterday. There’s always a shooting competition, which is a hilarious showcase of how terribly we all shoot. I haven’t shot a puck since May 2018, and I had no idea if I still remembered how.

I brought my stick and my gloves anyway. When signups rolled around, I figured why not?

So, can I still shoot?

Power: Yes, still there!
Accuracy: Not as good as it used to be, but still within quarter-of-the-net range.
Feel: Feels awesome. All is right in the world.

Before yesterday, I’d been thinking about donating my stick, because it’s freaking awesome and mostly wasted sitting in my garage. But when I put my gloves on and picked it up, I realized I wasn’t ready to part with it. It feels like an extension of my arm.

Brains are fascinating like that.

Favorite

Upon logging into one of my accounts this morning, I was prompted to set a security question.

What is your favorite sport or activity?

I paused. The word in my head was “hockey”. Of course it was.

Of course it was, except it can’t be anymore. Because part of my ability to be okay with not playing comes from not holding on to the past. I was a hockey player. I’m no longer a hockey player. Hockey was my favorite sport. Hockey is no longer my favorite sport.

And yet, I’m unwilling to nominate a new favorite sport. I’m still processing. I’m not there yet.

I’m trying out new sports, trying out new identities.

I should have answered that question with, “Watching myself try to answer this question.”

No Going Back

Last week I found myself suiting up for hockey. My first game back! I was so excited.

As I finished putting my right shinguard on, I remembered: I can’t come back.

I turned to my teammate on my right. It was Raika. Last year I had to tell her I couldn’t play with the team in Thailand. This time I had to tell her I couldn’t play right before game time.

I wasn’t sad about it. Just like last year, I simply accepted it as fact. The only part I found upsetting was that I had to disappoint my teammate. Again.

I suspect I had this dream because now, a year later, I’ve decided I’m done coaching. I didn’t wake up one day and tell everyone; I’ve sort of let this idea settle in as I’ve stayed off the ice all summer. Now that Winter season is starting, people have been asking me whether I plan to continue coaching. My answer has been a consistent, natural, no. Not that I don’t like to coach, but it’s an awful lot of time and preparation, and while it’s rewarding, it doesn’t bring me anything close to the joy of playing an actual game. So while I have skills and knowledge to share, I no longer have super rad stoke to share. The skaters deserve more stoke, and I have a long list of things waiting for more time.

And so another chapter has ended. I’m grateful for the year I spent coaching after I stopped playing. I had fun designing practices and creating light bulb moments. In exchange, I got to process my impending full retirement from the ice.

Here I am, fully processed, and fully retired. It’s peaceful here in my hockey world.

As for all my other worlds… I could really use some more time for all these new hobbies.

One Last Goal

This morning, I played hockey with my friends. It was pure joy.

Toward the end of the game, I lined up for a faceoff against my friend. I looked at her and asked, “Is this real?”

In that moment, I realized I was in a dream.

We laughed as we skated down the ice, my friend trying to defend. I made one final effort and pushed the puck over the goal line.

Time ran out.

New Mayor, New Town

Shortly after I lost my mayorship at the rink where I played my last game, the same operators reopened the San Mateo rink just a few miles north.

Today, thanks to Give Hockey a Try Day, coaching two NCWHL divisions, coaching the Black Stars, and volunteering at a special ed kids skate, I became the Mayor here.

Four more years?

Toe Drag Snapshot

At a scrimmage in the first half of last year, I found myself in front of two defenders and a goalie, with all the time in the world. I thought it would be neat to try toe dragging a snapshot. Everything happened as I’d imagined, and the puck sailed into the back of a mostly open net.

After practice last night, I remembered I wanted to explore this more. The goalie was still around so I went in for a couple shots. She squared to the puck. Perfect! I dragged, then shot for the left post. The puck got by the goalie cleanly, flew just inside the post, and hit the back of the net.

Did it again right afterwards to be really really sure I had it down.

Angles FTW!

Core

Small observation from top roping Wednesday night: I’m learning to keep my arms straight, position my feet, and reach starting with my legs and body. It feels way more stable and effortless than reaching with my arms. Especially overhangs.

I’m really enjoying how swimming and climbing are teaching me basics of stable and efficient body movement.

I wonder, if I’d learned these concepts before picking up hockey, how much faster I could have improved on the ice.

I suppose I can still try out some of these ideas and use the ones that pan out for coaching.

My People

Helped out on ice for the Black Stars tryouts tonight. People from all three teams were there, as well as some new folks from various corners of my hockeyverse.

Being on the ice was great. Seeing everyone was even better.

“My people,” I smiled as I left the rink. So grateful for this community.

Reminders

Two months and two days into hockey retirement, massage therapists are still telling me my back muscles are oddly imbalanced.

I don’t mind explaining that it’s from years of hockey, but… reminders.

Last week at the rink, someone asked if I missed hockey yet. I replied that I won’t miss something if I don’t actively think about not having it. Most of the time I’m so busy doing other things I don’t have time to miss hockey.

Reminders make me think about what I don’t do anymore. I miss it for a moment, dive into that feeling, and come out of it grateful for the time that I had.

Then I go do something else.