BLOG - HOCKEY & HEAVY METAL
SEPTEMBER 3, 2013 • 09:28 AM
ROSALITA! SKATE A LITTLE LIGHTER!
Since the first rule of blogging is to keep it interesting, it felt like it makes more sense to combine my last three hockey skating classes into one entry. I mean, there’s only so much you can write about basic skating drills.
These three classes were highlighted by the welcome return of Coach Brian, who had been away in Europe for six weeks. As it turns out, my initial guess as to why he was away for so long turned out to be correct - he’s a professional hockey player and he was taking a long look at a couple pro leagues there. Fingers crossed for him. Finding this out also makes me feel a little bit better about how bad my skating is compared to his - at least I can say my skating sucks when compared to a real, honest-to-goodness professional player.
The first class ended up being my favorite of the three - it was one of those days when I was just “on” and everything just flowed. It didn’t hurt that that whoever was in charge of the satellite radio that night picked a classic rock station, so we were doing our drills to songs like “Cinnamon Girl”, “Closer To The Heart”, “The Ballad Of Curtis Loew”, “On The Turning Away”, and so on. Then Brian decided to finish class with a relay race, and few things will turn a bunch of grown men into a bunch of 8-year old boys like a race will. It got better when my turn came during the peak of Bruce Springsteen’s epic “Rosalita”, and then it got even better when I skated as fast and as well as I ever have and made my turns perfectly. And then as I was tagging my relay partner at full speed I lost my balance and simultaneously 1.) landed hard on my ass, 2.) pulled muscles in my left thigh and 3.) slammed into the side boards, all right around the time Bruce sang his famous line about his car giving out somewhere in the swamps of South Jersey. It all hurt like hell but it was somehow just exactly perfect, and we won the race. So there.
The second class was, conversely, one of those days when I was just “off” and the coordination was just not there. It was frustrating. It didn’t help that my left glute was still bruised and sore from the week before, as were the pulled left adductor muscles. Nothing seemed to click for me this week, and I stumbled or fell several times during the trickier drills at the end of class. It happens, I guess, and all you can really do is try and learn from it and move on.
The third class was kind of right in between the other two. I did most of the drills well enough, but I wasn’t really “on” or “off”. But I do know that I’m a better skater now than I was in June, and I “passed” the class. In other words, I wasn’t put onto the dreaded “not ready yet” list - it turns out that if that happens, I would not have been permitted to join the intermediate hockey class that I’d enrolled in. There was one scary moment though - one of my classmates had his skates go right out from under him during a transition drill, and when he fell backwards his head slammed onto the ice like a sack of potatoes and bounced up. If he had not been wearing a helmet he would have left the ice on a stretcher, but since he was he got away with just being dazed and confused for a minute or two. He finished the class, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out he sustained a mild concussion. It’s at this point, I have to admit, that before class I thought for a minute about ditching the helmet for class this evening just for fun, and I’m wondering if this was the hockey gods’ way of telling me not to ever do that. Whew.
Speaking of that intermediate hockey class, when I dropped by the rink a couple Fridays ago to sign up for it, a pick-up hockey session was in progress. I stopped to watch for a few minutes, and I was very encouraged by what I saw. While it’s clear right now that I’d be the worst player on the ice if I were to join in, the guys out there were having fun and playing with a lot of respect for each other - no major bone-jarring contact, and lots of passing and whooping and just having a good time. You could also see that the best players were operating at cruising speed and mostly making sure that they were in the right place at the right time and making plays to set everyone else up. I still have some work to do before I’ve earned the right to try this, but you know what? It’s not nearly as far away as I initially thought.