As children, every day was gameday. Remember? We'd play with footballs, baseballs, basketballs, any ball we could get our hands on. It didn't even matter if we knew the rules or had the right equipment. We'd find a way to compete. When I was 10, my brother and I invented a game that involved striking a football with an aluminum baseball bat in an attempt to sink it through a basketball hoop attached to the side of our swimming pool. What? I know. But it wasn't really about the game we were playing. It was about playing the game.
Unfortunately for many of us, the older we get, the less we play. For some, life gets in the way. You know, work, family, Reality TV, the important stuff. For others, that competitive fire just dwindles to embers over the years. Well, I'm here to tell you that hockey may be the key to igniting that fire once again.
Three years ago, I weighed 219 lbs., which would be fine if I was 7 feet tall. Unfortunately, I'm only 5'6". So I was a Fatty McFattypants. Though it took years of total complacency to get that out of shape, it took just seconds to realize it. One day, I had to dash upstairs to grab something. When I reached the top, I noticed I was breathing heavy. I thought, "I'm 31 and I'm exhausted after a brisk jog up the steps. What the heck?" Then I caught a glimpse of myself in the hallway mirror. I couldn't believe the fat guy with fresh sweat running down his face was me. Something had to change. Having given up hockey about 5 years prior to this epiphany, I immediately thought going for a skate might be a good idea. So, I dug out my skates and laced up.
A Rude Awakening
Of all sports to jump back into after years on hiatus, hockey should have been way down on the list. After about 4 minutes of skating, I was completely winded, my ankles hurt, my back ached, and I could feel multiple blisters beginning to form on parts of my feet I hadn't used in years. But, I manned up and fought through it. I kept reminding myself of the old saying, "Pain is temporary...I can't remember the rest, my feet are killing me". It was absolutely awful. But, I knew the agony was just my body's way of reminding me of what I'd been missing for so long. I would soon realize it was worth every wince.
Back to the Future
I'm 34 now. Today I weigh 170 lbs. and I'm still dropping. I owe it all to a better diet, a little exercise and a whole lot of hockey. I'm still 5'6", but there's not much I can do about that.
Right now you're probably thinking this is just another cliche story about a fat guy who lost weight. I understand. I'd be thinking the same thing if I were you right about now. But the truth is it's not quite that simple. See, I don't play hockey to keep the weight off. I keep the weight off to play hockey. Competition is what drives me. I want to be the best player I can be. To do that I need to be faster, stronger, better. Get the picture? Losing weight, having more energy, and feeling better physically and mentally are just byproducts of the thrill of competition. Hockey got me here, and hockey keeps me here.
"I'm not a fatty, so what else you got?"
While my unhealthy condition was the catalyst behind my jump back onto the ice, there are plenty of reasons beyond fitness and competition to take up the sport. The social aspect is phenomenal. You get to meet new people and experience the instant camaraderie between you and your teammates. It's also a tremendous stress reliever for those who need a productive way to channel their anxiety.
"It's too late for me to learn how to skate!"
Listen carefully, IT'S NOT TOO LATE. It's never too late to learn how to skate. There are "Learn to Skate" classes specifically for adults, as well as "Adult Hockey Basics" classes! It doesn't end there either. Once you've gotten your feet under you, you'll find you can work on your skills via "Stick & Puck" and "Pickup Hockey" sessions. When it comes time for league play, choose from a variety of skill levels from C (novice) on up. Many rinks even offer age-oriented leagues and tournaments for over 40, 50, 60, and in some cases even 70-year-old players!
My rink, The Reisterstown Sportsplex, offers hockey leagues for all skill levels. They also offer a 7-week "Learn to Skate" course and an 8-week "Adult Hockey Basics" program. Pickup Hockey and Stick and Puck are also available. Get more info at rtownsports.com.
I wanna hear from you!
What do you think of this post? Tell me! When and how did you get the hockey bug? I wanna hear your stories. So start posting!