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For those of us that played and still play Sports!!!

For those of us that played and still play Sports!!!

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  #1  
Old 11-25-03, 06:41 AM
fatkid66's Avatar
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Smile For those of us that played and still play Sports!!!

I just got this sent to me by a hockey buddy, but im sure this goes for all of us whether you play hockey, or any sport. I know we all coulda been pros. we just never got our big break!!!

This was written by Joe Bertagna who played goalie for Harvard in the '70s. Its kinda long, but if youve gotten this far, i m sure you wont be dissappointed!!! Brought a tear to my eye!!!


March approaches. It's a time when the Rites of Spring gain headlines. For many people, it means getting excited about spring training and the pending baseball season. Though for some of us, it means the Yankees made better offseason deals and the Red Sox rotation is still two pitchers short.

For me, there is another Rite of Spring. I have to decide if I've just finished my last season of playing hockey. The decision can wait until the fall, when that call comes. But as the equipment gets hung up in the basement, there is that sense that comes each spring that maybe this is the last time for this particular ritual.

I've been playing goal for about 36 years and for the past two winters, I've found a great outlet for my hockey yearnings. No more adult leagues. No more "no-check" tournaments. It's just the same group of guys, every Thursday night for 80 minutes at a suburban private school rink. No refs. No scoreboard. Just the white shirts against the dark. Adult pond hockey, basically.

What makes this particularly attractive is the fact that almost all of us, whether 31 years old or 51 years old, played for the same high school and the same coach. There's a lot more going on here than a weekly skate.

Now, I realize this means very little to you readers. I mean, this isn't Bourque retiring after winning the Cup. It's not Messier finally slowing down. But in my own little world, it is difficult to give up the one activity that has basically defined me for most of my adult life. Plus, if you "don't" do something anymore, it's a short walk to the realization that you "can't" do that something anymore. And no one wants to acknowledge that.

This isn't necessarily a case of stopping because it isn't fun anymore or acknowledging failing skills. Hell, I've watched my modest skills eroding for years. I've responded by, a) lowering my own standards, and, b) finding a different level of competition. It's a feeling that, with the demands of my job and my family growing, it might just be time.

In fact, for some reason I can't fully explain, it has been more painful watching the skills of others erode. I've seen mine decline gradually over a long period of time. And, to be honest, I was never a superstar to begin with. But watching some of my friends' skills go, now that has made me feel old. There are certain buddies with whom I have played, almost continually, since youth hockey. There has been a certain sense of comfort watching them make great plays with quick hands and uncanny anticipation. Suddenly, they can't do it with the same regularity. And it makes me feel that my world is changing and I don't like it.

Some nights, I call what I do "Playing Hockey." Other nights, I call it "Standing On Ice While People Shoot Things At Me And Hope That They Hit Me." That doesn't sound quite as attractive.

Anyway, I've made a list of some of the things I'll never experience again if I decide to hang 'em up.

I'll never experience lugging the oversized bag of equipment up the cellar stairs, through the kitchen, through the breezeway and out to the car again. Nor will I ever experience going back and picking up the nine things I knocked over in the process, including my two-year old daughter, Grace. (That only happened once and I still think she could have seen me coming and moved.)

I'll never again have that uneasy feeling when you are more than halfway to the rink and you are running late and you realize you have absolutely no recollection of putting your cup in your equipment bag.

I won't get dressed for the first time in October and discover that my hockey pants have somehow shrunk since the last time I wore them. I mean, it's either that or I ... no, they shrunk. They definitely shrunk.

I'll miss locker room talk. Subtle put-downs. Not so subtle put-downs. Being 20 years older than the youngest guy in the room and not feeling out of place. Now, whether they don't feel I'm out of place is another story. I can't control that.

I won't be the first one in the locker room and the last one out. Again. So I like to talk. What's wrong with that?

I'll never again stretch so long that I miss most of warmups. My theory on warmups is this: I don't play it like a game so more pucks just hit me, as opposed to me going after them. The ones that just hit you hurt more. Second, at this age, I feel I only have so many saves left. Why waste them in warmsups. So I don't take many warmups.

I'll miss that mental sequence that unfolds each year.
Week One: "I have no expectations of playing well. I just don't want to get hurt."
Week Three: "Hey, I'm playing better than I thought."
Week Five: "Can't any of these guys cover anyone? Where the hell are the back checkers!"
Week Twelve: "I hope this is almost over. I just don't want to get hurt."

I'll certainly miss the characters. Anyone who has played adult hockey knows the types. There's that one guy who is better than the rest but doesn't acknowledge it. He makes everyone around him play better and is unselfish, never showing everything he could do. There is that little guy who buzzes around and makes you wonder why he didn't make it at some higher level. There is that guy who wasn't ever a star when he was younger but is now playing better than he ever has at any other time in his life. And, of course, there is The Mouth. That guy who has something to say about everyone, knows exactly which buttons to push to get someone's goat, and usually has one poor foil who takes the brunt of his verbal assaults.

Then there are all the little things. Picking off a pass. Being out of position and watching the shot go wide. Hearing the sound of puck hitting post. Realizing that the puck that just hit the post went wide. Playing against a classmate's son. Lining up for a faceoff and looking to see which way the slot guy shoots. Taping a new stick. Playing against a classmate's daughter. Replacing a toe strap. The taste of a beer in a parking lot at midnight when it's 15 degrees out.

I guess I started thinking about this more when I realized that in my last session, I actually spent more time drinking beer in the parking lot than I did playing on the ice. (Hey, we rotate three goalies.) But that also reminded me that it's not just the icetime that attracts us. My guess is that if the 80 minutes became 40 minutes, many of us would still show up, for the locker room, the reduced ice, and the parking lot. It's what we do. It's who we are. And we don't ever want to start a winter without a schedule on our refrigerator that is our very own.
 
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  #2  
Old 11-25-03, 07:05 AM
kaybyrd's Avatar
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Location: N.W. MS.
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Frank,

I can relate to this LOL. I still remember clearly doing gymnastics. I watch the girls on tv and think "I could do that". Now I do good to get up off the couch LOL. I can still stand on my hands and walk a little on them, and I can do a cartwheel. More times than not I have to ice my legs down after the cartwheel since I'm not as flexible as I use to be.

At 41, I had to quit gymnastics at 18 - too tall for the sport causing injuries, my goal is to not hurt myself. I don't heal like I use to heal. I also think of the aches and pains I have today that are remnants of injuries I incurred while doing gymnastics.

I will always be a gymnastic in brain, but my poor body reminds me: "you've got to be kidding!!!"

Kay
 
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