Wednesday, October 12, 2011

750 words on why I'm speechless

I have lots of words in me, but sometimes I just don't feel like I can adequately express how grateful I am to get to play hockey. Or to just have hockey in my life at all, but playing it seems to create my most heartfelt moments.

But I can try...

I don't know anything in life that would make my heart feel as full as hockey does. There was a time, early in my goaltending career, where I went to the rink nearly in a panic, worried about being judged, misunderstood, talked about behind my back if I didn't play well.

And it wasn't paranoia. It actually went on. I heard I was called lazy, I thought I was better than I was, I was cocky, I wasn't trying.

When really, I was new, never been any kind of athlete ever (learning to play one of the hardest, most unnatural positions in sports), scared, intimidated, while still trying to have some light-hearted fun. I wasn't learning the right things for them at the pace they wanted me to learn them, but as I've come to understand, you just can't push learning curves. It takes the time it takes.

But I spent a lot of time and energy feeling the angst of being misunderstood in the beginning. Maybe it's something I had to go through to get to the happy place I'm at now, but it still eats at me sometimes. I look back with a degree of bitterness that it had to be that way for so long.

Now, however, I may not make everybody happy, but I'm happy. My heart is FULL when I drive home from Sugar Land each week. And my game is better for it. I'm loose, I'm glad to be there (generally), it's a pleasure to go to the rink.

Granted, I've had a lot to learn from a mental perspective since I started playing, and that's part of it, but whatever the case, it's an incredible relief to feel like I belong somewhere. The crush of teammates at my net after wins is, quite possibly, the most rewarding thing ever.

I mean, I play for me. I love to play and I think goalies are super important and I'm pretty cocky out there, feeling like the world revolves around me if the puck is on my half of the ice.  But at the end of the day, all I really want is my team to be happy with me. If I feel like I've got that, then I can sleep at night. The rest of it is just me psyching myself up and doing what I need to do to get in the right state of mind.

Anyway, all this is just to say that our team (which was, I believe, 0-5 or 1-5 to start the season) won the championship last night. I honestly thought we might never win a game at one point, and that was okay, because I liked my teammates, but it's a lot more fun to win. :)

It wasn't my best game, or even close to it, really, but they had a couple of neutral observers there to watch the game and choose an MVP (since our commish was playing in the game)... and well, they chose me. Which is silly. My girls scored 6 goals and we needed all of them. But I saw a few shots, made a few saves, nothing spectacular, and 2 of my goals were a bit crummy.

But still, the recognition was a total shock and much appreciated. I did the whole pageant winner thing of, "Wha? Me? *tear* Really? *skating over* Seriously? Thank you! Am I dreaming?" with hugs from my teammates along the way. Surreal.

I wish I were cool enough to act like I've been there, but I really haven't and I'm not cool, so I'm just going to geek over it for a while longer.

But what really felt the best about it was just being on a team that likes me beyond what I can do for them in the crease. We have fun together and make each other laugh and when it comes down to it, isn't that what rec hockey is about?

There's a lot of people I wish I could just take them by the shoulders and look them in the eyes and say, "Stop judging people and just enjoy playing the game." But it wouldn't be any of my girls. They already get that and that's why I love 'em.


maalivahti  October 12, 2011 at 1:47 PM  

Hold on a sec... I think there must be something in my eye. *sniff*

Our journeys have been so similar. Sometimes you take the words right out of my head, and this is one of those times. (The whole people being happy with you thing really hit home). I'm SO PROUD of you! And I'm so glad that you got through that first rough patch and hockey is truly your happy place now. Way to go, Champ. :)

Ms. Conduct  October 12, 2011 at 2:03 PM  

I know, right? I love having you to bounce this stuff off of and hear your experiences because otherwise, I have no context!

Thanks for the support and the cheers!


James  October 12, 2011 at 2:10 PM  

There's nothing better than playing with a good group of beer leaguers.

I've played with crappy guys and been scapegoated off my team and eventually out of the league.

But, I have a really good team that won the regular season last year and are off to a 1-4 start this year.

But, things are still pretty cool, regardless of the W-L record.

Plus, we get a good laugh at the jersey sponsor on the back of our jerseys.

Sexual Behavior Outreach Consultants (Google it, but not at work)

Ms. Conduct  October 12, 2011 at 2:13 PM  

Hahaha! That's aces. Love it.

Nick in New York  October 12, 2011 at 2:19 PM  

"you just can't push learning curves. It takes the time it takes."

Great line.

And congrats. In all seriousness (and fondness): it couldn't have happened to a nicer, more deserving person!

Dee  October 12, 2011 at 4:32 PM  

Congratulations!, on your hockey championship as a team, the recognition for your individual contribution and you're personal achievement of realizing you become a better person when you're a part of something bigger than yourself. Life is sweet! Eat It Up :)

Oh, I LOVE BACKHAND SHELF!! I have some goalie pictures you may be interested in...just sayin'.

Nick  October 13, 2011 at 1:33 PM  

Congrats, Mrs. C! Very heartfelt and well-deserved ... thanks for sharing!

Anonymous  October 14, 2011 at 4:46 PM  

Loved this sentence:

"...I was new, never been any kind of athlete ever (learning to play one of the hardest, most unnatural positions in sports)..."

I feel the exact same way and you said it perfectly. Why we non-athletes choose to take on hockey (one of the most difficult sports to play on earth) I'll never know, but it's addicting. The reward is getting better through hard work and the amazing comradeship of our teams. Thanks for writing the words we're all thinking:)

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