In around 2004, I decided to learn to play hockey. With no experience in playing team sports since fifth grade soccer at recess, and next to no natural athletic ability, this seemed daunting at best.
I began by relearning how to skate at outdoor rinks in my free time and skating in circles. I only broke one bone (tailbone) while practising my backwards skating. The following winter, I joined a local community Learn to Play Hockey group at Dufferin Grove Park – a group of like-minded co-ed adult beginners who shared a lack of experience and an open-minded attitude. The group ranged in age, lifestyle and occupation, but a great deal of ice time, wit, and pitchers of beer were shared amongst the group. Since then, I’ve taken some power skating and hockey skills classes, and later joined the women’s recreational league at Bill Bolton Arena. By then I was already addicted to the exhilaration of both outdoor shinny and indoor pick-up games, but it didn’t hurt that I managed to score a goal in my first “real” game (now, after a few years of regular games, a rarity).
Over the years that followed, I played in tournaments and on women’s and co-ed teams, up to four times per week, including The Chimeras at Rinx, the women’s league at Bill Bolton, and from about 2010 to 2013 was the proud General Manager of the co-ed hockey club The Screaming Unyons, in the world’s best hockey league, The Good Times Hockey League of the Arts.
The Hockey Summit of the Arts (“hockey Christmas” as it has come to be known) is every Easter weekend, and teams from across Canada converge in Toronto for a weekend of games during the day and performances at the El Mocambo at night. In 2011, the Unyons made their Hootenanny debut, with songs and comedy based on Schoolhouse Rock. We even won The Exclaim Original Cup, not for winning games, but for, well, being original.
These days I don’t play as much, in favour of more unstructured time for writing, but I am still a right winger for the Unyons, and am looking for maybe one more game a week…