I take the ice for the first time in months. Earlier I got online to check upcoming stick and shoot times and discovered the blessed rare occurrence of an evening session. When this happens, you don’t debate attending, you go. Of course, I discover this after my intense leg and speed drill workout and wonder how I’ll keep my legs under me.
The air is an artificially cold and very dry. The ice looks good even though it is not cut before the session. The rink coordinator informs us the practice before was just positioning drills. I finish putting my gear on and waddle out to the ice. I’m always excited to step on the ice to discover how my skates belong there. That first push off and glide never gets old.
During the session I work on my wrist shot. It’s weak, but maintains a decent sense of accuracy. Then I begin the dreaded embarrassment of finding my slap shot again. This simply is something you cannot practice off of the ice. I deliver what I think are the proper mechanics, but it flies off in all directions. As hope fades, a coach glides my way. “Let me show you something,” he says. It’s the high school coach that stuck around with some of his players after practice. He’s a kind man who commands the attention of his players through mutual respect. His face is soft and sits behind a large, thick pair of glasses. “I’ll take what ya got coach,” is my clever reply. It was my way to help him understand that I know I’m a novice, but I’ve got enthusiasm. He walks me through an explanation, and then demonstrates what I’ve been doing wrong. I become so focused on getting it right to realize this intense focus is because I want to show the coach that what he’s taught me is valuable. I didn’t do it to improve my slap shot.