Looking at the picture I chose for the header of this blog, I feel an immense longing back to my childhood. I remember when the highlight of the day was to go play shinny with my friends on an out-door rink they used to freeze at the school. You would get everyone there, the pre-schoolers, high-school kids, adults, I mean everyone. Normally the rink would be full and people would take slapshots and what-not until someone plucked up the courage to put up a shinny. Everyone would line up and equal teams were picked, regardless of your ability, skills or age. Everyone got to play.
What was great about it was that you really got to meet people and have a good hearted competition. There was no trophies handed out in the end, no stats held of who scored the most goals or man of the match awards. It was all good clean fun, just as it was intended to be. When the weather was too cold and that 5km bike ride to the rink was a bit too much, you would put up a game of street hockey with the kids from the block. There were no goals, you would just build two piles of snow that would act as posts and off you went. Sure the cars that would drive past would ruin the game and the posts, but it was a minor nuisance.
I think one of my fondest memories is me playing on my own against my dad and my brother. It was a new-years eve and we had a best of seven series going. Needless to say I was outnumbered and outscored, whilst I was juggling to play outfield and goal at the same time. It was a great experience and it didn’t matter whether you won or not, it was all about taking part and having fun.
Now all those years have passed and I have a different take on the game. I am more serious about the way I look at it and prepare. It is all about winning now days, but I look back at those games and the cold nights spent falling in love with the game and I realise that it is that child’s innocence and enthusiasm every person has for the game, no matter what level and how much they are earning to play hockey. Maybe taking part is not the main priority anymore and the goals are set higher, but it is still that same passion that keeps me going. After years out of the game I am now, again, madly in love with the sport that has been such a big part of my life and has given me so much. If you really want to get to the semantics of it, I met my wife because of hockey and I’ve met some of my best friends through the sport.
Friendships and achievements go hand in hand. I will always cherish the memories of hockey/poker nights at people’s houses where we could be spectators once more and have a good laugh over a few beers. Maybe the most important thing that hockey has given me is not the trophies and medals I have on my bookshelf, but the memories and friends I have garnered through out the years. I wish one day, when I am old and wrinkly, I can sit in my rocking chair and look at the photographs I have from those days and reminisce these days of glory that I am now living through.