Why would anyone take up a sport they’ve never played at (almost) 37?
Why would an Australian girl choose ice hockey?
I loved ice skating as a kid. I mean seriously loved it. I remember begging my mother to let me wear my skates to school, but then I went into foster care and, well, no one was going to take me to, let alone pay for, ice skating for a foster child. Years later, I was adopted and we moved to the outback.
Yep, Crocodile Dundee outback. Desert, dust, dangerous animals, and as you’d expect, no ice.
I’ve always loved team sport, and I immediately started playing basketball with the same intense obsessiveness I’d shown to ice skating. I’m not always good at what I become obsessed with, but I always throw myself into it, boots and all.
Basketball worked out for me, and for many years I found a home and a career in its varied guises. Then injury and divorce delivered a one-two punch and I was out for the count. I couldn’t face a basketball court for years.
Still can’t, if I’m being completely honest.
In the early 2000’s, we didn’t know half as much about injury rehab as we do now, and I was told I could not play again. Hell, I was told I couldn’t even run without risk of permanent damage. Cycle forward 10+ years, a few niggling aches and pains and a whole lot of weight gain later, I see a physio who tells me something different.
So, I start jogging. It feels OK. The gym is BORING. I hate it. I drop some weight, then boom! I get carpal tunnel and extreme neuralgia. I don’t work, let alone workout, for nearly a year.
On the internet, I meet a girl who introduces me to the Australian Ice Hockey League and I have a brief conversation with Goodall Cup winning coach Brad Vigon of the Melbourne Mustangs. It starts something ticking over in my brain, like an itch that won’t go away.
My husband tries hard to put me off. I’m way out of shape… what if I permanently damage my ankles? What if… In the end, I decide to go for a skate. My ankles hold up well. I’m pretty wobbly, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to be scared.
So this is where it begins: rental skates, hockey lessons, and a whole lot of determination.
I hope you enjoy coming along for the ride.