In his first set of pads, at age 8.
It’s been a little over two years since we began our hockey journey. When I look back, it all happened without much planning. Things just fell into place. Fate, perhaps? Certainly not anything we thought a whole lot about. My hockey experience growing up consisted of going to occasional Washington Capitals games (back when they played at the Cap Center in Maryland). I did not play and no one in my family did. We were soccer players, who dabbled in basketball, wrestling, track, football, and crew along the way. No ice involved in any of those, unless you count the icicles that would form in my hair when we had early morning practice on the water when I was on the rowing team. My husband did not play hockey either, nor did any of his family or close friends. Essentially hockey-ignorants. That was us.
Then my son, who was turning 7, wanted to have an ice skating birthday party. Not sure why – he had never really skated and had not been to any parties at an ice rink. Maybe he had a calling? Maybe in his young brain he had an inkling of things to come and knew he had to break out onto the ice somehow? Who knows, but there we were at an ice rink that I recalled from my childhood (and that still looked EXACTLY the same, all those years later).
The party itself was a disaster. A tip for parents out there considering this type of party – don’t do it unless you know that everyone invited can skate. Otherwise, you get a bunch of kids hanging on the wall and falling all over the place until they give up and just stand around. Huge bummer. But we did discover that my son was pretty much a natural skater. As much as one can be, that is. Do we really have an innate need to balance ourselves on thin blades while going in circles on man-made ice?
From there, he quickly decided that he wanted to play hockey. The whole ins-and-outs of actually being able to play hockey in any league around here I’ll save for another post. Suffice to say, we started with skating lessons and then hockey lessons, finally landing on an ice hockey team a year and a half after the skating party. In the meantime, we had also found an inline league that allowed him to start playing much more quickly and for much less money. Hallelujah! He was out there and having fun.
Then came the pads.
I don’t recall exactly how he ended up padded from head to toe in goalie gear, but I really think it all had to do with wanting to try on the big leg pads and stand in the goal. I suppose it looked fun and he wanted to try it. I have to admit that I understand that line of thinking. I became a high-jumper in high school because I thought it would be fun to land in the big mats. We all have our own ways of making decisions and the “that looks like fun, I should try it” way works just as well as any other.
It turns out that not only did he really like wearing all those pads, he also was able to move around in them (after a few occasions of looking like a turtle on its back when he fell and couldn’t get back up) and even stop the puck now and then. The rest is history – he quickly went from occasional goalie to making the inline travel team and then began his ice hockey goalie career, which is now in full-swing. Where it will go from here, I have no idea. But is has been a fun ride so far and we’ll see what happens. He certainly looks like he is having fun.
That is all that matters.
I enjoyed reading this–it reminds me that developing passions take us to subcultures that we never knew existed. And how fascinating they are!