Geezers In Breezers – A New Beer League Talk Column By OldManDan

by @Sounder2thecore

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Howdy Beer Leaguers!

OldManDan here in your eye sockets. Thanks for dropping by the homestead. Grab some wood there and sit a spell.

First a little about Geezers In Breezers the new column for Beer League Talk. Nick was kind enough to grant me some space to feature the more mature player. Now don’t get your knickers in a bunch, you can still be as immature as a 12 year-old, I’m talking about age here. Why let all the young whippersnappers have all of the fun and get all of the recognition? For us geezers, I’m nearly 48 years-old for the record, we still have fun playing the game we love and can be just as, if not more, inspiring to others that might be too afraid to take up this great game.

This idea was born a spell of time ago, but really came to fruition while I listened to the interview that Nick did with the journalist Evan F. Moore. During the interview both of these men spoke of taking up hockey as adults and the trials and trepidations associated with that experience. So, beer leaguers, beginners and folks that are thinking of playing that is my purpose here, to tell your stories. Are you a former superstar that is now just playing for fun? Are you a woman that decide to play in her 30’s or 40’s? Or are you standing on the other side of the boards, afraid of embarrassing yourself by signing up for a learn to play class? Regardless, I am here for all of you, to tell my stories and yours. You’ll find an email link below to submit your tales of Geezer hockey.

Welcome to Geezers In Breezers! Now let’s drop the puck.

9. Don't puke

Hey you pay attention and sit up straight!

Hockey is a country for old men and women, but be prepared for failure as a part of learning. Oh and keep a sense of humor about the process, it is an invaluable tool.

To those that have been considering learning the sport, those that are learning or relearning the sport, and those that want to understand the process, I must tell you that it is not easy. By now you know a bit about me. I am picking up again after a long layoff. 20 years to be exact. To say it has been humbling, would be an understatement. Also, it has been a fantastically enjoyable process.

In my life I have played a bit of hockey, most of that time spent on ice was as a child. I had a great time, enjoyed playing and never developed into the best skater. I was and still am in love with the sport. It truly is a magnificent spectacle when played at the highest levels. Speed, grace, brutality, are all on display in the USA and Canada Women’s World Championships, The Stanley Cup playoffs and countless other games at the college, professional, junior and international level showcase amazing talent.

I belong in none of the above. I am what is referred to in the hockey world as a beer leaguer, playing only for recreation and the occasional after game beer. My skills and talent or lack thereof do a disservice to many beer leaguers everywhere. My talent, as it were, was never fully developed and was further impacted by years of inline hockey, a similar but different enough sport that served to develop and further cement my bad habits.

This brings me to the first day of my return to the ice. Armed with basic knowledge of the game and forced to remember the practice of my youth, I had a semi-sick nervous feeling that seemed to permeate every fiber of my being. This was made worse by the fact that I was running late due to traffic. No one wants to be the last person out of the locker room, especially the new guy. This is especially true as a middle-aged guy with a history of sports pursuits. We all expect ourselves to be experts as adults and I am no different. So, there I was, the last guy in the locker room, when the coach, a crusty old Canadian that I will come to know as a bit of a hard-ass but lovable guy pops his head in and tells me, to get on the ice. Upon not recognizing me, he introduces himself and his son. His son, a young man half of my 46 years will be my guide back into the world of hockey.

At this point, I am trying desperately to keep an exuberant attitude and a willingness to learn at the forefront of my mind. I should let you in on a few  things to provide a bit of context:

 

  1. No one is born knowing how to skate. Nope, not even the Canadians.
  2. Most hockey people are really good people. The kind that will be there for you in life, on or off the rink.
  3. I have always pursued athletics and was hyper-competitive into my 20s-30s and my expectations of myself have sucked the fun out of more that one pursuit over the past few decades.

With the beginning of class, I checked my ego at the glass and took my first steps onto the ice. I had spent plenty of time skating with and watching my 7 year-old daughter play hockey and was inspired by the attitude of the young girls just learning the game.

This was my first attempt at releasing my ego in an athletic context.  How’d it go?

I didn’t fall when I skated, so it was a good start. The rest of the class had begun a power skating drill session. A series of exercises that consists of high speed stops, towing other players, high speed turns around cones and other impressive movements and drills.

That was not my drill.

Instead, I was standing there at the end of the curved boards with my guide, as he began working me through the most basic skating drills. We did swizzles, weaving your skates in and out, forward skating, using your inside and outside edges of the skates, stopping and backward skating. For coaches, these actions provide the quickest evaluation of a player’s skills on the ice, with the goal of keeping everyone safe. Hockey is a sport that is impossible to hit midstream and be up to speed. So, there I was doing the drills of a beginner,  and not doing them well I might add, but I was enjoying myself more than I had in a very long time.

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The ability to remove the ego, in as much as is possible and just allow for failure was an eye-opening experience for me. So much so that I felt I should share my experience with others of all ages.

Be inspired, allow for failure, keep an open mind and sense of humor have become my mantra. Take from it what you will.

Tell me your stories! Submit your stories to me the comments or in email:  Email me 

I look forward to reading them and sharing them with all of the other Geezers!

Now, get back to work!

– OldManDan

 

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