Writing the Self 1: The Ice
When I was first told by my parents that they signed me up for hockey, I cried. I simply didn’t want to play a sport that was “meant for boys”, but I had to, otherwise the town would not have enough kids to make a team. Growing up in a small town, all the girls I knew either didn’t play sports, or were involved in things like dance, but not hockey. So, I threw a fit, I didn’t want to be different from all the other girls and for that reason, I hated it, or so I thought I did.
So my parents took me to my first game anyway. It was in our tiny town rink that was minus 30 degrees Celsius on the best of days (and yes, that is inside the building). The Zamboni was a rusty old tractor with a water tank on the back that was broken down the majority of the time, and there were holes in the roof where snow would often fall through onto the skaters. But it was a rink, and that is where we played. So I stomped in, slapped on my gear, and played my first hockey game, tears still in my eyes. It had to have been only one period, 20 minutes later, when something changed. I realized I had fallen in love it.
Now, here I am, 12 years, 6 teams and a few too many concussions later. I haven’t stopped and I don’t think I ever can. It has become a lifestyle and a part of me that I keep going back to over and over. There’s something about the way it feels to glide over ice with blades of metal strapped to your feet that give you such a rush. The wind gliding through your cage and the intensity of the game make it almost impossible to resist. It’s absolutely exhilarating, and it’s something I would never have discovered if it wasn’t for my parents forcing me to play that day. I would have never known what I was missing. But I do now, and without it, I feel like I have no place where I truly and perfectly belong.
Every time I step into an arena, it’s the same thing. The same snap of the buttons when I put on my helmet, the same walk from the dressing room to the ice, the same smell of brine, and the same whirr of the ice plant fans, and for a second, that’s all it takes; I can close my eyes and I’m back in that freezing cold rink in the middle of nowhere, where it all started. I know, that no matter where I am, as long as I have a stick in my hands and skates on my feet, I can walk into any arena and know that I’m home. It is exactly where I belong because I am able to do what I love.