A Note on the Occasion of My Wife’s First Goal in the Summit of the Arts Hockey Tournament

This is a story about how you shouldn’t stop, ever. This is a story about my wife, number 26, who, yesterday in our annual Easter hockey tournament– the GTHLA Summit of the Arts (formerly the Exclaim Cup)– scored her first tournament goal after countless games and countless Easters. I was changing in a nearby dressing room at the time when a team-mate, Paul Chisholm, burst in yelling “Janet scored! It was beautiful goal!” My wife– who is five foot three and started hockey nine years ago when she was 40– scored her first regular season goal this year, too– off the goalie’s stick, then off her facemask, then to her feet, then past the goalie– but this one was different: an expertly angled tip in the goal crease off a hard slapshot from the point, deflected bar down over the goalie’s shoulder and into the net. Paul said that the crowd and the players on both teams exploded with cheering and hollering. The referee gave her the puck and she brought the puck to the bench, and if she didn’t celebrate like a kid– being a Steve Yzerman fan, my wife long ago thought she’d follow his example if she ever scored– she certainly looked like one carrying the puck to her team-mates: legs pushing with excitement, smile ribboned across her face, eyes alight with the amazement of the moment. Her shift ended awhile later and the rest of the team hugged her when she got to the bench. J started playing just after our kids were born, and, growing up, they’ve known her as a small woman who shares the ice with giants, and who, until now, plays simply for the sake of playing; stats, or lack thereof, be damned. But now she’s a scorer– hard to live down, I know– but watching her all these years– and having, myself, played against and with men and women from every corner of the world with remarkable and inspiring stories to fill chapters of books– my wife is my favourite hockey player for the heart and courage and joy she’s shown her family, friends and others around her: grinding out plays and holding strong despite the occasionally madness of the game and maintaining a sense of play that celebrates life. The team that my wife scored against, Looking to Score, has been celebrating their own team-mate, another middle-aged woman, Suzanne Crew, over these past few months. Sue, whom J and I have both played with and against, is in the hospital this Easter with a terrible, life-threatening illness and, when J scored I couldn’t help but think of our bed ridden hockey friend, and how both women– how all non-tradfitional players in this tournament, really– play every shift like it’s both their first and last. So maybe that’s a lesson, too. Sure, don’t stop, but, also, keep going a little harder. Keep burning to play and keep burning to live, as both women are doing. Show people that you do it because you love it and because you love it, others will love it, too. Hockey is beautiful and life is beautiful. And, occasionally, the puck finds the net.

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