I'm not 20 anymore

I started playing hockey again last year. I’m so grateful that Jillian encouraged me to start playing again when we moved back to Canada. It had been close to 20 years since I played any kind of organized hockey. I’d skated a few times over the years, but I can’t remember the last time I even owned skates. Thankfully, I learned to skate when I was 4 or 5 years old, and you don’t lose those skills (entirely, anyway). In the warmup for my first game, I confidently jumped on the ice, grabbed a puck, took 4-5 hard strides, shot the puck at the net, and promptly wiped out.

Over the season, the timing came back, the legs came back, and things became a little easier. This year I definitely had some rust following the summer off, but things got back to where they were pretty quickly. I’m scoring a few goals here and there, I’m in the play, I know where to go (for the most part). These are the things that you lose when you stop playing for 20 years. Importatnly, though, I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. Hockey is my escape from my job. I play in a wonderful league. There are quite a few exceptional players throughout the league, but nobody takes the game too seriously. Our games are the highlights of my week (other than seeing my loving family, of course).

Fast-forward to today. I’ve been scoring a little more the last few games. My confidence is high. Time is running out, and I jump on the ice for what is inevitably the last shift of the game. I chip the puck off the left-wing boards, past the defenseman. I’m determined to score. I’m going to beat the defender to the puck in the corner, stop, and cut hard to the net. I’m hoping to stuff the puck under the goalie on my backhand, since he hadn’t been giving us much all game. I’m visualizing all of this. That’s what Gretzky did, right? I beat the defender to the puck. I grab the puck and turn hard to my left. I catch an edge on the back of my right foot. I wipe out in a spectacular crash, right into the boards. Thankfully, I landed on my butt and my hands, so I didn’t break anything but my ego.

I’m going to be sore tomorrow. It’s time to take an advil and go to bed. I’m not 20 anymore.