For about six months out of the year, I play hockey. I play in the winter, I play in the summer, and I love it. I’m not very good, but it turns out, if you are mediocre and you hang around long enough, you get pretty good in comparison to all of the new people, and the others just start to appreciate you for always showing up (because the best players are also often the ones with other things going on who can’t make it to all the games).
Today, I had my first game of the season, although I had missed last week’s. There were a couple things that were frustrating about today – the league doesn’t have enough people for four teams, so we have three teams that are totally overcrowded – 17 people is way too many for a hockey team. An ideal number is something like 14 – a goalie, four defenders, six wings, three centers. This is a problem with the league – it’s a noncompetitive league, and they have to walk a fine line to keep everyone happy. A lot of the more intense players don’t want to play since the level of play has gone so far down, but a lot of us are also easily frustrated by the slower pace of the games, the amount of whining that goes on (if there is one team that is really good, it takes about six games before everybody complains), and the general lack of competition.
I’m unable, at this point in my life, to commit more time or money to my hockey career, so I continue to play every Sunday – which means that while I enjoy it, I’m not really getting better. I try to learn things – how to move my feet faster, how to carry the puck better – but really, these are things you learn in practice, not on game day. I would like to be practicing more, even at home with a tennis ball and my stick, but I just don’t do it. So my goal for this season is to instead, improve myself at games. I will set personal goals for myself for each game, the same way we used to in college at the beginning of each game.
Today’s goal was to show my team that I’m a valuable asset to the team – because it was my first goal, that is always the most important thing to make clear. You want to make clear that you are somebody who, when they pass to you, can do something effective with the puck. I scored the winning goal today, so I think I’m well on my way. (Yeah, it felt awesome. But seriously, I think I’ve had the best game today that I’ve had in a long time – I felt really good.)