It’s nine fifteen on a Friday night. It’s dark and cold. Men and women alike from twenty something to — well our oldest is proud to inform anyone that he is 81 — have dragged themselves away from their warm homes. They could have had a long difficult day at work. And the work? Lawyers, teachers, students, nurses, laborers, moms and dads…
The rink is cold and quiet; the schools and children’s leagues have long since departed. People are slow to dress — they are tired from a full day, maybe not feeling well. They should be at home with a beverage of choice and a movie, but… One at a time they step out on the ice. Some stretch, some chat. Most take their time, finding a rhythm, rediscovering the feeling of the blades in the ice, centering themselves over the slide. Some are thinking, “What am I doing here?”
Some, “I’ll only skate for a little while.”
“Pucks!” a person who wants to get down business shouts.
All free pucks are collected and the game begins. The crisp, cutting shush of blades into the smooth sheet, the resonating bang of the hard rubber against the boards, the satisfying clunk of the puck against the stick, the feeling of flying, air in your face — faces beaming, laughing, cajoling, teasing, encouraging, teaching. On the bench, glancing at the person beside me, I see the same grin of delight that I feel on my face, and a woman declares, “Isn’t this the most fun you’ve ever had?”
Some people played on teams when younger, some still play in leagues, some played on ponds with siblings in secondhand skates and always wanted to play hockey. Many had to put aside pride for the awkwardness of an adult beginner. We wonder why everyone doesn’t play. At the end, whether we played badly, made mistakes or scored goals, all are renewed, invigorated in body and mind, happily anticipating playing again. All true representatives of playing For the Love of the Game. With heartfelt thanks for the teasing, encouragement and patience of my coed team mates.
Want to Play?
Marty Note: The ADK Ice Caps women’s hockey team is recruiting. We are inviting women of all levels, including beginners. The age requirement is 21 years with no limit on the upwards ages. We play at the Ameri Can Sports Arena in Plattsburgh. Call 603.582.8139 or 518.983.6454 for questions, information and other requirements.