My new women’s hockey team is progressing at a much faster pace than I had anticipated after our 1st practice, which mainly consisted of sorting our gear and convincing our middle school age coaches that we were serious enough to warrant them getting up before noon to help us.
By practice 2, word had spread that something hot was happening on the ice, and we had about 10 Cold Muthas playing red light-green light under the patient tutelage of gifted skater (and 6th grader) Coach Keyra.
Last Friday marked practice 3, and it was clear that even with the addition of 2 new skaters, we were ready for a scrimmage. Maybe we were too anxious to scrimmage, which might explain why when one of the new skaters — who admitted she had entered her 6th decade — couldn’t fit into the toddler size helmet we tried to scrunch on her head, we may have told her that her Floyd R. Turbo-style earflap hat would do just fine.
Also, in our haste to stop the endless “skills drills” and get to playing a real game of hockey, we also assumed the other new skater didn’t know how to skate which caused me to not protest when she was put on the opposing team. I was soon to suspect that this “new skater” was none other than Pippi Broadknockings from the Big Mountain Misfits roller derby team.
Now in the pros, NHL players go out on the ice and skate fiercely for 2, maybe 3 minutes at a time, then they leap into the bench area and are relieved by another player. This is called “switching on the fly.” Fortunately, the Cold Muthas were playing 4-on-4 with no substitutes so there was no possibility of “switching on the fly” which would have been re-named “switching while shredding your groin muscle and getting stitches in your forehead.” Instead, we had no breaks. Although this solved the problem of not having to switch on the fly, the endless skating back and forth after the incorrigible puck began to cause breathing difficulties and heart arrhythmia. The only way we could earn a break was to fall or score a point.
To be fair, we did both; but the falls achieved a longer rest period. This is because women who have decided to take up the sport of hockey just a tad after said sports career is totally rational get quite a bit of attention when they fall. Both my children, Her Royal Highness and Odd Number, play hockey and they fall on the ice and get up in one fluid movement. Not so the Cold Muthas. We lie there and stay still for a few minutes to make sure our spine has not shattered and the vertebrae clattered across the rink like spilled ice cubes. The other players stand still also, genuinely concerned, but also genuinely glad to not be skating and to be breathing oxygen.
Coach Conrad asks if we want to just play on half the rink and we turn on him.
I see a chance for my team to score — the puck oh-so-close to the juicy middle of the net — and Pippi Broadstockings doesn’t even see that I’m making my 20-yard move up the ice. But one of the major drawbacks of starting a sport later in life is that your head and your body have to confer about exactly what you are trying to accomplish, rather than the split second mind-body motion of seasoned athletes. My body was doing its best to get me moving as quickly as it felt possible on the ice, but as my mind was starting to try to explain to my body how relatively close the net area is to the wooden boards that connote the end of the rink and that even though we dropped physics in high school so we could take Home Ec Foods II we still should know how this is going to work out …
The entire front of my body hit the boards first, and then by the force of physics, my backside got a turn, my helmet making a sound on the ice like the cracking of an egg. I was incredibly pleased to not be wearing an earflap cap.
Do I have regrets? Absolutely not. I have gotten by just fine without Physics and Foods II has proven to be a lifetime sport.