Summer League is a week from resuming and so my team, the Interceptors, is tuning up; getting the band back together, as it were.
One of my Interceptor teammates, Clayton Powell, felt moved to write about what being part of a team means to him. This piece really spoke to me and I wish I’d written it. Over to you, Clayton…
By Clayton Powell
A little while ago a friend of mine had a chance to do a ‘come and try’ ice hockey session with her family. She decided to watch while the rest of them skated. I asked her why she passed up the opportunity. She said it looked scary. She thought she would fall over and hurt herself on the hard ice. And to be honest, I had the same thoughts at the start of my ice hockey journey.
This got me thinking about why I go out there each week and play hockey. How do I make that transition from an ordinary father of two to an ice hockey player each week? For me, it all starts in the change rooms.
Everybody files in with massive bags of gear. Having travelled from all corners of Melbourne. Then it is time to gear up. Everybody has their own routine. Their own order of putting things on. Variations in gear manufacturers and styles. It is amazing the transformation the gear makes to you mentally and physically. You feel like a warrior suiting up for battle. It gives you the confidence to do things you would never even attempt without it.
When you put on the gear you become a hockey player.
I must admit to not being the youngest player out there. And to carrying a growing number of nagging injuries. I’ve found that the gear can help to compensate for some of the injuries. It helps to support and protect joints and limbs that would otherwise hamper me. I actually feel more capable on the ice than off it.
And then you put on the jersey and you become part of a team. You now have other people depending on you. And people to support you. Everyone has the same jersey. All the differences in backgrounds and abilities melt away. You all go out on the ice as one.
The final transformation occurs when you fill the team bench and assemble into your lines. Those two or three people who will spend the next hour watching out for each other, covering each other. This is the tight cadre that will be your backbone throughout the match.
And so, as the game comes to an end, what was it that enabled you to go out on the unforgiving ice and skate hard and fast? What is it that lets you frantically chase a puck through a maze of fast moving bodies? What is it that enables you to put your body on the line week in and week out?
It is the change room transformation. The gear, the camaraderie, the jersey, the team.
You then return to the change rooms to bask in the afterglow of your time on the ice. A time where you were more than individuals. More than the people who walked into the change room 90 minutes earlier. The jersey and gear come off. And as everyone dissolves back into their day to day lives you begin to dream of next week when the transformation begins all over again.