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Dictionary.com Definition:
Ice Hockey
-noun
A game played on ice between two teams of six skaters each, the object being to score goals by shooting a puck into the opponents’ cage using a stick with a wooden blade set at an obtuse angle to the shaft.
Origin: 1880-85

Winter Adams Definition:
Ice Hockey
-noun
A game played on ice year round, where once you’re a fan… you’re always a fan. The object being to take numbers, light the lamp and show no mercy. The greatest game on Earth.

Hockey. As far as I’m concerned it’s the best 6 letter word in the dictionary. It’s not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle where everyone is family. The mere mention of the word can bring a smile to both the young, old and everyone in between. Whether it’s 60 minutes on the ice or 60 minutes watching it be played, it’s 60 minutes of bliss. Once you’ve loved the sport, there is no going back.

Hockey is obviously my job, I write about it, read about it, debate about it, conduct player interviews, watch countless games, practices and then recap it all. But long before it became a job, it was my passion. I can remember begging my parents to take me to the flooded parking lot downtown, the ice rink, a pond, heck I think I even begged to skate on a swimming pool one year. Any frozen water that I could get my little gloved hands on, you bet I was there. As I got older, the begging stopped and I found myself skating on that same flooded parking lot midday and flicking on my headlights as the sky grew dark. In high school, I got a job as a receptionist at the local rink and would skate for free on my lunches. While all my friends were snoozing away in bed on a Saturday morning, I was up teaching skating lessons. Anything to get a few minutes of ice time. 20 years later, nothings changed. Of course I’m a little older and probably not much wiser, but ice is something you can never get enough of.

That being said, I went skating the other morning. Some people do yoga to de-stress, I skate. I’m not one to chime in with my opinion, obviously I have them but I tend to keep it to myself. To each their own. However, while lacing up my skates I was extremely frustrated by a conversation I overhead. A woman was lacing up the figure skates of her daughter, while the daughter was protesting that she wanted to play hockey like her brothers. The woman’s response was the following, “Honey, hockey is for boys, girls wear sparkly outfits and glide on the ice. Figure skating is for pretty little princesses like you. Only ugly girls play hockey.”

I can break this down a few different ways. I’m fairly sure this woman’s comments couldn’t have been any more inept. If looks could have killed, the woman would be 6 feet under. Upon seeing me glare at her, she looked to my skates (hockey, obviously) and my face and said “Of course not you, I just don’t think it’s right for my daughter to play hockey it’s dangerous.”

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. I’ll be the first to admit that hockey can be dangerous, I’ve had a concussion or two. Quite a few beatings against the boards and so on. Would I have less injuries if I played lets say ping pong? Probably. Contact sports run the risk of injury, that’s common knowledge. Hockey is no less dangerous than football, rugby or even field hockey. Not to mention that the sport doesn’t really become overly physical until kids are much older.

So, her daughter doesn’t play because it’s dangerous. Fine. Next up on the list of idiotic comments would be the fashion aspect. It’s a sport, not a runway in Milan. But hockey doesn’t have to be all black and white. My practice jerseys and socks are a rainbow of colors, my “jill” is pink leopard print, my hockey tape is camo and my laces are purple. Perhaps not the most elite fashion, but still colorful and fun. I’m sure I could whip out the bedazzler and make my jersey shine if I really felt it necessary.

Only ugly girls play hockey. This really got under my skin, mainly because I usually get the same gist of this comment from people. “Their is absolutely no way that you play hockey, you’re too pretty.” While I appreciate the compliment on my looks, in what universe does that have anything to do with my ability to play a sport, have knowledge on a sport etc. The only people who are ugly are the ones who have the mindset that they’re better than anyone else based upon looks. Looks and ability don’t correlate. End of story.

Finally, the whole mindset that only boys play hockey. No matter how many times I hear it, it drives me insane. True it’s a male dominated sport, but that is changing. Every year more and more females become part of the hockey family. NHL12 added the option of a female player on it’s most recent game. Canada and the US took gold and silver home at the Vancouver Olympics for women’s hockey. More women’s leagues are popping up throughout the US and Canada than ever before. But to some people the mindset that girls don’t play hockey, boys do is the only view they see. The sport of hockey doesn’t have a preference when it comes to it’s players. For anyone who knows me, they know that I’m consistently chirping people to get in the game. I fully encourage girls or anyone for that matter to try it. Learn to play leagues and classes are becoming available at many rinks for both children and adults. Used equipment sales are becoming all the rage as well, so you don’t have to drop hundreds of dollars to try it out. A helpful site is: http://www.arenamaps.com/ here you can put in your location and find rinks near you (US and Canada). Often your local rink can give you information about clinics and programs to pursue your hockey dreams. Hockey, it’s not just for boys anymore.

Hockey has helped me in so many ways. You don’t really understand it until you become submerged in it. It’s a lifestyle, a family and a piece of my heart.

A few hockey quotes that make me smile:

Jacques Plante: “How would you like a job where, every time you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?”

Steve Rushin: “By the age of 18, the average American has witnessed 200,000 acts of violence on television, most of them occurring during Game 1 of the NHL playoff series.”

Unknown: “Hockey players have fire in their hearts and ice in their veins.”

Jim McKenny: “Half the game is mental; the other half is being mental.”

Unknown: “Ice hockey players can walk on water.”

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