Announcing, at last, the team I’ll play for …

Mo-town: Having fun while shaving the Play-off Beard after the Wings lost.

This is a question I have been asked a lot, ever since I first pulled on skates back in January: who are you going to play for?

I think we can all be clear that most of the NHL teams are beyond me, and the AIHL teams too … my dreams of lining up for the Melbourne Ice are destined to be crushed.

But that’s okay because I have finally found a team worthy of my ever-blossoming hockey skills. Well, actually, Will found it but who’s blog is this? (Thanks, Will … nice find)

So without any further ado … meet my team:

Even these guys might question whether I’m ready for them yet, if they were at Friday’s Stick & Puck session. There was I, in full kit, stick laid down on the ice, neatly next to my puck, as I skated hard, attempted to hockey stop, went back the other way, attempted to hockey stop, went back the other way, and so on, pausing only to fall horribly and slam into the ice every fifth attempt or so.

Or there was I, deciding the only way to really nail the bastard that is the pivot is to fully 100 per cent commit, as I had during Wednesday’s lesson with good results – except for when Army the coach was watching, at which point I screwed up everything. But anyway, I actually performed some perfect pivots, and so at the stick & puck I decided, nonchalantly, to polish that skill and man, did my helmet bounce off the ice.

But shrug, it’s pushing myself to the point of falling that will get me there.

I’m actually kind of surprised how few falls there are in this round of Intro. I’m one of the few who goes over but, I kid you not, I’m proud of that, because when we do crossovers, and the key is to really lean off your outside edge, which is totally unnatural and difficult and needs to be done with speed so it’s even scarier, I’m trying to get onto that edge, not a flat edge. And so occasionally I lose it and splatter. It’s what the armour is for, right?

All this pushing myself has been important this week. I’m having another of those weeks where I doubt I can ever get the hang of these moves; ever be able to skate well enough to play. Basically, it’s a re-run of the post “Staring Down The Crapness” (Feb 3) where you watch others in Beginner Class skate like they were touched by the skating Gods to skate at levels previously unattainable by humans. Or were born with skates on feet, etc. Inliners, or second-timer-arounders. Better than me.

So I dug out the inline skates I bought a couple of months ago and hit YouTube, looking for clues on inline stopping and moves. At which point, I found the glory that is the SkateLine School (and note the music):

Hmm, when next in America, I might choose not to stay with those guys. They’re just a bit too, umm, happy. Instead Will and I decided to practice crossovers at a basketball half-court near my place (with rocks, twigs and nut shells scattered on the surface, for extra thrills) and practiced backward skating. Then I threw myself at Wednesday class, actually trying hockey stops for the first time since my bizarre first-ever class when I’d been on skates about twice. And then Friday’s Stick & Puck was my final throw-myself-at-it carnage session. I still can’t quite nail the two-foot hockey stop but I’m getting there after only three days of trying.

All in all, fun. On Saturday, I even turned up at 9 am, driving Will to one of his skating classes at the Icehouse, so I could keep working on all this in a General Skate session. Turns out the figure skater classes were dominating the other rink, so I couldn’t. But it was kind of useful anyway, because I found myself unexpectedly sitting in the stands, drinking coffee, and watching an Intro Hockey class, in the same week I’d just completed. And I realised, no disrespect to the skaters out there, that I’m pretty much around the mark of where they were – the usual dream-skater freaks aside. I’m better than quite a few of them, not as good as others.

So enough analysing and fretting, and get on with it, Place. Put on the trusty “Harden the fuck up” black wristband and get on that outside edge.

Army enjoying me failing to get onto the outside edge, as required, during crossover training. Pic: Will.

Hopefully, I can push past the negative demons. In Week 5 (as in, this Wednesday), it’s full kit again. Which means we’re only a couple of weeks away from using sticks in class. And then the scrimmages again, to finish. And by then, I have to be good enough for intermediate classes.

This is what’s playing on my mind, now I come to it. Time ticking, and my skating creeping so slowly towards the level required.

I only have a few more weeks. I need to do this. Now.

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