Skating on the Shoulders of Giants

April 12, 2006

If anyone out there is a Hockey Fan, you know that OLN has been playing The Legends of Hockey lately. I’ve been riveted.

I can hear my uncle talking as I’m listening, can hear the kids who are all around me at the rink.

I can see forward to the day when Caruso will be there, too. (Go Caruse! OSU Hockey!)

I have fallen in love with this game.

There is something special about it–something about the way the smell of the ice lingers in your head, the way the sound is so much sharper in the rink. It’s beautiful. It’s alive. It’ such a gift to have been able to work with it.

I come from a hockey family. A goalie family–I usually claim that it’s genetic. My grandfather didn’t play, but you can see his philosophy in the way my uncle plays. You can see my uncle in every goalie he trains. . . the style is so pure, so aggressive. . . the epitome of the goalie who places himself as the last guard of his team, and does so with joy and style. My cousin has inherited that goaltending style. My brother, and two other cousins play defense (mostly), and they have it too–even the hotshot. That bone-deep love, the way there is honor and integrity to be found in defending your goalie, your colors, your team.

My mother, my aunt, my grandmother–they don’t play. They might even tell you that girls shouldn’t play the game. (They’ll say this now–they wouldn’t have before they grew up.) My (girl) cousin and I agree that the girls are hockey cheerleaders because the boys really couldn’t handle the competition (well, and because we’re busy coaching from the stands). Being a fan, for us, is serious business. The forces of good and evil WILL swing to conform to your will if it is strong enough. And honestly, in my family, strength of will is not often in short supply.

And so we come to me, who cannot do anything the easy way. In me, there is this strange need to look for meaning, to find that strange golden flood of adrenaline that comes with touching epic moments.

It occurred to me tonight–my cousin the goalie comes home this week. Plans are being formed to find ice time. And after two years of work, I have suddenly earned my place on the ice. I’m still the weakest link, and I understand that, but I’m there. I can tape up, and lace my skates, and take that hypnotic step-glide, stick in hand, fidgeting with my gloves. I have earned that place for myself.

And I will look across the faces of my family, and I am so very proud to be in this pantheon, and so supremely grateful to have had this quest, this game, and this epic moment.


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