By Bruce Overstreet
This past Sunday was day two of my “research” into what it is like to be on the ice with a stick in your hand and a bunch of padded-up guys frantically chasing after a puck. Just like the Olympians.
Well, maybe not just like T.J. Oshie and his band of brothers, but what I am doing at the Comcast Arena’s Community Ice Rink is more realistic than EA Sports “NHL14- Live the Life” video game.
My experience was better than the first week, but I am still so far behind the other guys on skates that I often feel as if I am in a different zip code by the end of a drill.
I am, though, making strides: I’ve got the stick consistently in the correct hand now; I can glide on one skate for more than zero seconds; I understand the off-sides line; and, most importantly, I can get over the railing on a line change without having to use the gate.
But I’m so far behind.
“You’ve got to spend time on the ice if you want to get any better,” Coach Rylan Huot, 18, said to me for a second week in a row. It’s a theme I often hear when I jump in and do these events and activities that I’ve never done. Usually these activities require an investment of time. Usually the participants have been doing the sport for a number of years.
Heck, Rylan Huot has been skating at Comcast Community Ice Rink since he was eight. And it shows.
“Time on the ice.” I heard the same line from Ethan Anderson, another 18-year-old skating veteran, who was again assigned to help get me through the skill drills at the beginning of this past class session.
“I gotta get out there a couple times this next week,” I thought to myself. “I can’t stand this embarrassment.” You remember the time when a person was so bad and so slow that he was holding up every other drill? That was me. Every drill.
I would be the one who would be picked last if we were choosing sides. I am the one who elicits a nod and an understanding smile from the other adults in the class as I struggle to get back to the start line because they are adults and they understand it’s just not kosher to laugh at the spasmodic player on the ice. Thank goodness.
“Time on the ice.” It makes sense. But it takes time.
Can’t I simply go out there and play with reckless abandon? Do I really need to work on my ability to glide on one skate? To do the Duck Walk? To master the forward crossovers? To stop on a dime and face the right direction?
“Time on the ice” means going to the Comcast Community Ice Rink and working on my skating. So, that’s what I did this past week.
Fighting the crowds of lil’ munchins that were packed on the ice like I-5 during rush hour on this day off from school, I weaved in and out of traffic determined not to be a victim of a mishap that would result in my crashing. There were more contraptions— walkers that provide stability for little ones — out on the freeway of frozen frenziness than were safe for anyone who only has their intermediate license to be on the ice. I’m one of those individuals.
I’m one of those individuals who should have a “Student Skater” taped to the backside, just to warn the others. I’m one of those who would be in the slow lane trying desperately to keep up with the flow of traffic. I’m one of those who hopes that no one will make a move that disrupts ones speed because I may not have time to apply the break.
Around and around I went at Comcast Community Ice Rink on Monday. All the time, with a pit of paranoia tightening my solar plexus, always wary of the wayward, oblivious skater. Finally, at one point, my stomach was in such knots that I had to take a break and just enjoy some water.
With my nerves recharged, I ventured back on the ice. It’s when I witnessed one of the few people over the age of 40 take a crash on the ice with his head that I skated over to the sidelines and called it quits for the day.
It took T.J. years to become an professional on skates — why should I think I can do it in one day? And, to be honest, I’m more comfortable on the ice now than I have been in my life. That’s improvement.
We’ll see if Coach Huot and Coach Anderson notice next week.