When the Women Won the Gold

March 9, 2014 at 11:00 am (Recreation) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I don’t got game.

I am not a player or connoisseur of physical games. I don’t play sports. Never learned early on the love of the game.

Organized sports, to me, has always been about competition and pain, not fun. In school, I was always picked last. My happiest sports’ memory is learning how to score a baseball team and being allowed (finally) to legitimately sit on the sidelines during gym class. Because of this and lazy summer evening watching B – my first crush – play ball, I have fond memories of baseball and consider it my favourite sport. I can sit in the bleachers on a quiet summer evening eating sunflower seeds and enjoy the roar of the crowd, the feel of a soft breeze and a slow, lazy baseball game. But only in person. I do not watch sports on the television for longer than five minutes at a time.

It’s not that I was an inactive child. We weren’t allowed to sit inside all day watching television and getting underfoot. I enjoyed the freedom of my small town every day in the summer and played in the alley, fall and winter evenings before it got dark, during the school year. I enjoyed playing tag, hopscotch, mother may I and hide-n-seek. I borrowed my friend’s roller skates and had my own bike.

This is where and when I learned to enjoy walking. I am a walker. I walk almost everywhere I can. I am a daydreamer. It’s always felt safer for me to be walking. I also use to read and walk which got more dangerous the more I lost myself in the world of the book.

School and organized recreation is what destroyed my love of physical exercise. I took figure skating and tap dancing and hated both. I had weak ankles and hand-me-down skates so figure skating was a chore not a pleasure. However, I loved just speed skating around the rink but this was not something a young lady should aspire to according to the rink coaches. Tap dancing was too loud. I wanted to learn ballet but it was not then offered in my very small town and we had no money to travel elsewhere. If we had, my eldest sister would have made it to the Olympics as a figure skater.

That was the other problem; my mother felt that the only way to be fair to all her children was to enroll them all in the same activity. My eldest sister excelled at all of them, my next sister was good enough and I was shit at the ones available.

I would have failed out of ballet too eventually as I got too tall and well-endowed by age thirteen to be a ballerina. By then dance classes evolved into learning square dancing in gym class. I’m sure you can imagine how that turned out – boys roaming one side of the gym and girls hiding on the other side until we were all forced together, by the teacher, for an awkward dance.

Badminton was my favorite gym sport but we played it so little as baseball dominated the Spring season, basketball dominated the Fall season and hockey dominated Winter. And, as always, the boys and their games dominated our culture.

Ice Rink

There was one girl allowed to play on the boy’s hockey team until they all hit their teens and she was forced to give up on hockey as there was no girl’s team. I wonder if she plays hockey now. We’ve come a long way, there are now about 87,000 girls registered in hockey in Canada.

I watched B play and excel at hockey on the senior team when we were in High School. I watched my nephews play, at the recreational level, all their lives as my eldest sister loudly cheered them on (all the players still remember hearing my sister cheering them on above every one else in the crowd) and drinking Mochas, the only coffee I drink.

Even now, Hockey is the main sport in the small town I grew up in. If you don’t follow hockey you don’t have much else to do during our long Winters. Grandma F use to go to all the games. But then again, she started to go to the games because someone she knew (a relative who made it to the big time) played. I find the game easier to watch when I know someone who is playing.

I don’t watch NHL games because the NHL games seem to drift from fight to fight. During the Olympics, a more technical game is played and I don’t remember seeing or hearing about a lot of fights. If Women’s hockey was played regularly on television I might watch more but only if they fought less than the men seem to do. I want to watch hockey not fighting!

We are Hockeyville.

I’m not totally oblivious to hockey. I remember the excitement in 1972 when Henderson scored. I was just starting High school and it seemed like the whole class was listening to the game (on transistor radios) that noon hour. Nothing much got done that afternoon in school (other than talking about the game). I guess we were directly involved in history that day!

But the game I remember the most of was the day the women won the gold in Salt Lake City because of their skill and a little bit of luck. That they won again in Vancouver (2010) and recently in Sochi (2014) warms my heart. The fact that we were as excited at work for the women as much as for the men gives me hope.

I don’t got game. I don’t play sports. I want more for the women who follow after me. I want my nieces to have the opportunity to play in the NHL if they so wish. I thrilled that they have a hero like Hayley Wickenheiser, another Saskatchewan girl, to look up to.

International Women’s day was yesterday Saturday, March 8th. I support all women following their dreams and passions even when it’s a passion that is alien to me.

Hockey is Canada’s game and it should belong to all of us.

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