Guest writer: Jess 2

Jess had such a great response to her first post, she’s saddled up again. So over to her …

Cluelessness and contusions

By Jess

So, Oakleigh. People seem to have mixed opinions on it but when I walked (ok more like crept) in on Tuesday night to get fitted for skates I fell in love. I love the fog hanging in the air adding a ‘sacred’ feel to the place, like the ghosts of players past still haunting the ice. I love the ‘used’ feel of the place – shit has happened here. Players that I will probably never fully appreciate have trained and played here. The scars of long forgotten games are etched in the bones of this great shed. It makes me think of the stories old men tell, stoic warriors going forth to do battle in the name of pride and honor. And sitting above it all like the silent sentinel watching over its domain, Next Level Hockey.

When I first started looking at skates I asked a few people where they had gotten theirs and what they thought of them. A friend that plays for the Alberta Pandas (Brandi Buss #2 defense WHOOP WHOOP), sorry, said that she skates in Bauer Vapors as they run slightly narrower than other skates and suit her feet better. “but you’re better off just finding somewhere that has a shitload of skates and trying everything on to find what suits you.” Awesome advice, if I was in Canada and could go to one of the bazillions of hockey pro shops they have. In Melbourne, we’re kind of limited. On the local side the advice I was getting was “Go see Joey at Oakleigh”. This kept coming up a lot, always in a tone that assumed I knew what people were on about. I didn’t. I’M NEW PEOPLE! If I haven’t been introduced to you at a game or met you in the bar before or after a game I DON’T KNOW YOU! Hell, there’s still some of our own players I don’t know which ones are which, so if I’ve met you and I haven’t seemed suitably in awe, feel free to point out why I should be. It’s not arrogant if you’re just teaching the new chick. I’m not one of those people who has memorized every player in the league – if I’ve met you, I know you. If I haven’t, I’m sure I will eventually. We’re not a super huge community and we’re pretty close knit. Everyone seems to be involved on multiple levels which is what makes this sport great; guys that play AIHL play and coach in the Vic league and lower club hockey and also rock in to drop in sessions so you can find yourself facing off against a guy you watch routinely smash players much better than yourself, both terrifying and exciting at the same time. But this means there is a huge amount of people to meet and I’m sorry but I just haven’t got around to it yet which led to this embarrassing conversation.

“Why does everyone tell me to go see Joey like I should know who Joey is? Should I know who Joey is?”

“Uh yeah, Joey Hughes, plays for the Ice … brother of Vinnie……”

FML, of course I had heard of Joey, it had just never occurred to me he was that Joey but as I said: small community.

So after basking in the glorious stupidity of my cluelessness I wandered down to Oakleigh after work. There was a kids class on when I got there so I stood and watched  for a while. Big mistake. Highly depressing knowing a twelve year old kid is better than you’re ever going to be. But I stayed. I don’t know if it’s because I’m starting to develop that ‘suck it up’ hockey player attitude or because I was a little in awe, both of my surroundings and the kids on the ice; regardless, I stayed. At this point I REALLY need to thank Martin and Tony, who missed the start of an Ice Academy training session he was running with Joey to help fit me out. I watched those kids before I left, they can afford to miss a session. Fitting beginner skaters must be the most irritating thing in the world. I don’t know if the way I answered any of the questions was helpful or just plain irrelevant and to be honest a lot of my answers were “I don’t know” accompanied with an apologetic shrug but we got there in the end. I am now the proud owner of a set of Bauer Vapor X3.0 skates! They are even the limited edition ones I was lusting over on the internet (I like the color better, I’m shallow, whatever). And they are AWESOME!  I suck, but the skates are awesome! Since getting them I’ve done a minimum of two hours a night on the ice, except Friday as I had to work late but no excuses I know. And to my great astonishment and relief I didn’t die! I’m nowhere near as good as I’d like to be but I’m not as god awful as I feared I would be. I stacked out twice on the first night, once on the second and got taken out by a “friend” Saturday night (you’ll get yours, don’t you worry about that!) On a side note to the guys at Next Level be bloody proud of your students, had three of them helping me out my first night on the ice while working on their own skating and their help was invaluable. Also to Martin who asked me when I would be joining Next Level when I saw him at the Icehouse only to have me laugh and say “Sorry, I’d prefer not to die”, I don’t think any of you would deliberately kill me with hockey drills but after hearing about the steps up students have had to make in skill, intensity and fitness I know I’m not ready for that. Maybe when I reach Base Level I’ll look at Next Level but for now I’m going to settle for getting on the ice as much as I can and maybe beginner skate school when the new term starts and possibly work on how to throw a punch without loosing my footing, for the next time I go skating with my so called friend.

Post script: Feeling epically ripped of that I didn’t bruise after being taken out Saturday night. What’s the point in being sore if you have nothing to show for it!? Maybe it’s my pole dance side coming out too much, bruises and pole burn compared amongst the class at the end of each lesson has become a bit of a tradition; one I’m sure I’ll carry on through my hockey adventure.

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