Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hockey without apology or knowledge

Child No. 1 (daughter who is now 12 -- I know it has been awhile) played her first ice hockey game today. She was playing in a 'mixed team' although, as it turned out, she was the only girl .

As she walked away to get changed into her, how should I put it, armour, an elderly man accosted me in a fashion that would make a great opening scene from a bad sports movie.

"Is that your daughter?"

"Why yes it is."

"It's not right. I've told them. It's not right." [I should add here that I am absolutely not making this conversation up]

"What's not right?"

"She shouldn't be playing. They haven't got what it takes."

"You mean girls?" 

"Yes, they should be in their own team. Too timid. Won't stick their nose in."

At this point, I wasn't too sure what it would take to stick her nose in and so was getting a little lost.

"She can take care of herself I think."

"Is she a fast skater?"

"I don't know about that but she does have a black belt in Taekwondo."

He regarded me with an eye that suggested he could tell that this fact was not too relevant and that he resigned himself that I would be unpersuaded of that truth. I bade him goodbye and wondered for a brief moment if the rest of the afternoon might play itself out according to B-movie scripts.

I needn't have bothered. You see, I should also tell you of one other fact. This was her first hockey game. And by first, I mean she hadn't actually even seen one before. If there any nuances, tricks, appreciation of skill or rules about the game, she would go into it blissfully unaware of them.

Their coach told them one thing: stay in your position. As it turns out, this is the one thing that no-one -- except for the goalie -- seems to do. The rest try very hard to get close to the puck in the hopes of -- intentionally or otherwise -- scoring a goal. For that reason, they rotate the players every 90 seconds in the hopes of getting some of them out of the way.

This wasn't my daughter's problem. She was a defender, fullblack, bludger -- I have no idea what the term is. She stayed back, on the left, near the goal. And she did it religiously. Basically, she made a decision that skating anywhere wasn't a good idea but that if anyone came her way she would be unmoved. One large boy from the other team attempted to negotiate that policy and found himself flat on his back. They all avoided her spot after that.

From a spectator's point of view, that meant an hour of watching -- when she was on the ice -- my daughter standing with a good 5 metre birth away from anything that might look like interesting action. You can see what I mean from this picture. She is No.7 in the front of the picture. Suffice it to say, no movie director will be optioning the story anytime soon unless they are interested in ruthless inaction.

And what was the outcome of this whole affair. Her team lost 3 to 9. I guess having that one extra kid up near the front of the line mattered.