Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Weekday at Bernie's

I promised you I was done hockey blogging until August. Well...I lied.

See, when I made that promise, I was only thinking about the Red Wings and the NHL season being over. I was not thinking about the fact that I might decide to play ice hockey.

This idea really started in Ann Arbor after I began hanging out with Chet and Lorraine. But I always had other things to do in Ann Arbor - soccer, kickball, and toward the end, tennis. The last thing I needed to do was start playing yet another sport when I was already past the ideal age to learn new skills. It took me seven years to get up to a passable level of mediocrity in soccer, after all.

But the idea of playing hockey always nagged at the back of my brain. Then I moved to Connecticut where I had no soccer and no tennis and started taking golf lessons, which was how I met Kelly. Not only did Kelly play hockey, she was willing to lend me equipment to get started.


Rather than jump directly into scrimmaging - not a good idea since I haven't been on skates since roughly the age of seven (no, wait, that's a lie - I skated with Sophie, Anthony, Jen, Bethany and Jess when we were 15) - Kelly forwarded me a flier for Bernie Cassell's Adult Hockey Clinic. She assured me that she had taken it twice and it helped a lot with learning fundamentals. The clinic had already started, but when I called the rink they said they would prorate me for the two lessons I'd missed and yes, this was appropriate for beginners. come when I got there everyone was flying around the ice doing spins and turns and fancy stick stuff? And how come they were all, like, huge guys?

Bernie quickly spotted me (not hard, I was the one sort of scooting along on my - OK, Amanda's - dull skate blades awkwardly wielding my stick) and skated over to introduce himself.

Bernie must have noticed my horrified expression and quickly assured me that beginners were indeed welcome, but that a lot of experienced players took the clinic to keep their skills sharp. He also told me that they would be nice to me.

Once the players stopped skating so fast around me that I could actually see them, I realized there were two other women and a couple newbies in the class. That made me feel better for all of five minutes, when we split into two groups for drills and they were all in the OTHER group.

Bernie was right, though - most of the guys were extremely nice. They were very encouraging - as was Bernie, who would skate next to me and yell "Good job!" which I appreciated, even if it was slightly distracting. Nobody complained about having me as their drill partner or in their group, which was also a relief. By the end of the class I was feeling much more comfortable.

Bernie assured me that I will be fine and I am not hopeless. Let me tell you, though - it is HARD to stay on your feet and move a puck at the same time. It is not as easy as it looks - not that I expected it to be, but's very difficult. At the same time, it is incredibly FUN.

I will definitely be going back next week. Bernie is a good teacher and the people were very nice. Plus, I am totally hooked now. Maybe by the end of the clinic I'll actually have picked up some skills. Right now I am just impressed with the fact that I can stand up on the skates.

Don't ask me to stop, though - hopefully Bernie can help me with that part next week.


Neil Pedersen said...

Sounds like we are in the same boat.

I too finally answered that nagging voice in my head to play hockey.

Like you my feet had not been in a pair of skates for 20+ years.

I have moved from Minnesota to Arizona.

You can follow my journey at

Good luck and keep going, get the skating under control. I did hook up with private skating instructor and have been going to public skates 3 - 4 times a week for over a month.

Amanda Lester said...

Just get the skates sharpened and they will be much better. They need an actual edge on them :)

Neil Pedersen said...

So any update on how your hockey training is going. I am anxious to here since I am in the same boat.

You can follow my journey at