Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Best of Times: Floor Hockey

It is amazing how many experiences fade away into the background of our subconscious, only to be brought back by some random happening. Or, in this case, not-so-random.

You see, we've had several weeks now with hot, sunny temperatures, meaning that the kids at my school have pretty much worn out all the backyard game ideas multiple times. Usually, when rain rolls in, we throw in a couple of days on a cordoned-off section of the parking lot, which provides some nice variety.

But since everything has been dry, some children felt like they were all out of ideas. (In their words, "We're BORED!") Our principal wisely allowed them to use part of the parking lot for hockey.

We have these two old, beat-up hockey nets that usually are behind our dumpster area, along with some plastic hockey sticks in sorry shape, but these kids are really enjoying the new venture.

And it reminded me of some of my favorite times in grade school.

Our school was small, but it participated in sports in a conference with some bigger schools. In the fall there was boys' soccer and girls' volleyball. In the winter there was boys' and girls' basketball. In the spring there was track and field.

Volleyball season usually ended for us at the end of October with a weekend tournament. Basketball practices usually started the second or third week of December, with things really heating up after Christmas break. There was a gap in the schedule, but it was filled with the best sport out of all organized grade school sports:

Floor Hockey.

When floor hockey season started, I was always so excited. This was the chance for girls and boys to play on a team together. Out here in Colorado we do it for every sport, but back in Michigan it was almost unheard of!

My school was in Ann Arbor, and I went there in the 1990s, which meant that hockey was huge. The Detroit Red Wings were dominating and everyone wanted to be just like those players. Hockey leagues were all over the place, and most kids around there had skates. There was even a giant ice arena that was built in 1995 that is simply called "The Ice Cube" (or, if you know your Math, A2Ice3).

We had some kids at our school in hockey leagues, and they'd bring out their fancy sticks and giant gloves to practices. But most of us were just using the school's equipment as best we could. I know I had a favorite stick I always tried to get.

For some schools, they would use large tables put on their sides as side boards so that the ball (not a puck) wouldn't shoot away. But we had really nice wooden platforms that were usually used for seating at games or as the stage for our drama productions. We would put those along the wall, and it provided great bounce - much better than the tables did.

In practices we would learn how to pass and catch a ball (think that scene in The Mighty Ducks but regular balls instead of eggs), the positions of players on the floor, how to center the ball on offense, and how to clear it on defense. But honestly, we just scrimmaged a lot.

I was defense. This is definitely the place where I learned that defense was my best position...in pretty much every single sport. I am not an attacker - I am one that wants to break up the other team's attack as much as humanly possible. Luckily, I was good at defense, so I was usually placed back there by the coaches.

We didn't play a full season of floor hockey, since it was just a placeholder until basketball began. Instead, there was one glorious night - usually the first Friday in December - where all the schools would gather together and have a tournament. There weren't many schools in our conference - I'd say 5 or 6 - but most schools had an A team (grades 6-8 most of the time) and a B team (grades 3-5 most of the time), and all of the teams would have to utilize one gym.

To say that the tournament was chaos would be an understatement. It was also the best night of the year. Where I didn't have much finesse or technical prowess in volleyball (we were definitely not a "bump-set-spike" team...we were just "bump"), and I wasn't a great shooter - or conditioned enough - for basketball, and I didn't discover I was good at shot put till later in my grade school career, I was always good a floor hockey.

My first year on the B team was the year that the A team won the whole thing. My brother was on that team. If I recall correctly, it was the only first place trophy my siblings and I ever earned in our grade school careers. (I blame it on our "evil" rivals, St. Paul's. They weren't actually evil, but we considered them as such back then. That's just how grade school brains work.) That trophy helped propel me to a love of floor hockey, because it always felt like our school had a chance at winning the thing.

We never actually did, though. But you know what? I don't remember what places we got. I'm sure I could find out if I looked. But what I do remember was being a giant pain-in-the-neck to a hotshot hockey dude on the other team who thought he was the best player since Gretzky. I remember playing side-by-side with some really talented boys and girls, and thinking how cool that was. I remember scoring a couple of goals, including a wrap-around goal that was likely nothing spectacular but I will always remember like this:


Most of all, I will remember having so much fun! The other sports were often stressful and a struggle, but floor hockey was just pure joy. I loved participating, win or lose. I loved hanging out with my friends, being a pretty decent player, and having the time of my life.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to see if there are any adult floor hockey leagues around here...


I am Claire Nat! I am a teacher and write for TouringPlans.com. I write about anything that interests me - mostly music, Olympics, and fandoms! Follow me @CeePipes or facebook.com/blurbmusings. 

2 comments:

Keep it short, keep it clean!