August 18, 2015

Thunder Road

I am excited and feeling a little silly for being so. In a few days the PuckHawgs, the team I started two seasons ago, is playing for our division summer championship. Here, in an unordered list, are what I consider to be some of the greatest sports accomplishments in the modern era:

  • 24 Stanley Cups- Montreal Canadiens
  • J. DiMaggio's 56 Game Hitting Streak
  • 1972 Miami Dolphins
  • Michael Phelps's 8 Gold Medals
  • Jack Nicklaus' 18 Majors
  • Wayne Gretzky's 92 Goal Season
Below is an illustration of the distance between any of these sports accomplishments and winning a "C" level, beer league hockey summer season championship.

Still, for those of us who live and die for competition on the ice in our long-past-our-prime years or seeking just a taste of what it might be like to climb the heights of success in the sports world, our little championship game is a thrill.

When I formed the PuckHawgs, it was an invitation-only deal. No open calls for players. No special player fee discounts for ringers I didn't know. I picked as many of my favorite people as I could get from the many teams I've played with the past two years. Was it important to me that we had a competitive team? I won't lie and say no but much more important was knowing who I would be spending those late nights at the rink with. Drinking beer with before and after. Hanging out in the locker room before the games started. My team has become a kind of family. There's the parental types, the brats and troublemakers. The brothers and sisters and crazy uncles. We've also won a ton of games.

This summer season we've been a chainsaw through the division, losing only one game along the way. We've come through three rounds of playoffs and soon we will be taking the ice for the summer championship. I want to win it badly and I admit that sheepishly. No grown adult with a mortgage, kids and struggling to keep the beer belly in check should care so much whether or not a band of weekend beer leaguers win a local rink's summer division. But I do. I want the on-ice effort, commitment to show up for every late night game and the sacrifices everyone has made to matter. I want our family to be rewarded. I want it for them and I want it for myself.

It seems like a long time ago I stepped back onto the ice- nervous that I wouldn't find a way back into hockey at all. Almost three years later my sights are set higher and I'm no longer just playing for me. Then it was about answering questions about myself. Now its about being part of a team and finding out what we can do. Can we make our own small entry in the book of sports accomplishments? Perhaps found in small print, near the back under the heading, "Big Events For Average Folks."

We're riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh-oh Thunder Road oh Thunder Road
Lying out there like a killer in the sun
Hey I know it's late we can make it if we run
Oh Thunder Road sit tight take hold
Thunder Road
-B. Springsteen