For The Love of Beer League
My absolute love of beer league hockey began in the summer of twenty ten. I had just turned twenty-one and finally worked up the courage to join a men’s league team after learning how to skate/play by going to rat hockey multiple times a week for about two years. I put myself on the free agent list as I didn’t know anyone who ran a team that was looking for guys, or at least for a guy of my low skill level. Fortunately another guy on the free agent list saw that there were enough guys to start a team and contacted everyone on it, thus “The Free Agents” were born. Most of our team was a bunch of dads who had kids who recently started playing and thought they could do the same. We did have a few guys who could play and an unbelievably solid goaltender. I still remember getting dressed for my first game and throwing on my solid navy jersey and bright orange socks and thinking how cool this was and how I felt like I was going to throw up. I put on my helmet and as I got up to walk to the door that feeling turned into reality as I ran to the urinal and yacked everywhere. While our first season was a disaster with us only winning one of ten games (that was the true miracle on ice) it taught me a lot and although I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, it was one of the best decisions of my life.
Over the last eight years I’ve gone through jobs, school, cars, girlfriends (now a wife), apartments, and more equipment than I can count but the one constant over those years is the great friends who are like brothers to me and having a game most Tuesday nights over the years. Those nights are the absolute highlight of my week. No matter how tough work, family, life gets, the two/three hours I get from first arriving to the rink to the ride home I get to completely shut everything else out and hang out with the guys. From stupid shit that’s happened over the last week to Simpson quotes and the game on the ice, life is simple and fun for that small window of time. Even the times when life gets frustrating you’re able to take those frustrations out on the ice. Sometimes those are guys (myself included) best games. Other times those are guys (myself included) worst games. Regardless of the good and bad on and off the ice, beer league and the friends I’ve made over the years are absolutely priceless and I don’t regret a second of it. A broken ankle, a concussion, twenty stitches to the face, and all the money I’ve blown are more than fair payments for all the big goals, wins, championships, postgame beers, and most of all, friends that I have gained over the years. I can’t and wouldn’t want to imagine my life if I was never talked into learning how to play hockey my cousin Dan. I figured that if I am going to be contributing beer league articles for The Windy City Podcast I would start out by summarizing my start into beer league along with my undying passion for it.