I played hockey for about 10 years while I was growing up, mostly as goaltender.
But when I moved to Washington in 1999 for college, I mostly left that life behind. Admittedly, I
played some street hockey on sunny days in parking lots or abandoned tennis courts, but it lacked the speed and organization that real boards and nets bring to the game.
A tipped-over recycling bin just isn't the same. Plus, asphalt is abrasive.
But then I saw it - a reader-board at the Olympic Skate Center advertising pick-up roller hockey - and I knew it was time to return to the game.
Going back to something you loved and left behind can be intimidating.
I showed up to the rink alone my first time, about a year ago. I didn't have my original pads, because they were at my parents' house, but I had picked up enough from thrift stores to play.
I hike, bike and do a lot of activity, so I thought I could go out there full steam. I was wrong. But after two Wednesdays of sprinting up and down the rink, I felt my legs come back.
Now, when I see new people show up for more than two weeks, I can see their skills and stamina improve by leaps and bounds, or strides and cross-overs, I guess.
As our numbers grew, I realized it was time to have Pops air-express me my pads. They came in four boxes the size a 30-inch TV comes in, that is, before TVs went flat screen.
Cutting away the packaging tape, I felt like I was reliving all those Christmases from the 1980s and early '90s when I first got my Cooper blocker, Brian's glove, Rhino helmet and Louisville leg pads.
Yea, Louisville makes goalie pads.
I donned my old armor again, for the first time in nine years, in my living room. Even with the face cage, my beta fish Jin could see my smile from his tank in the kitchen.
Muscle memory is incredible.
Falling into butterfly form is "like riding a bike," except I'm on 10 wheels and wearing a good 50-60 pounds of padding. I probably weigh a buck 35 without it.
I'm getting the hang of the game again and now I carpool with another guy from Sequim, Patrick, who's improved 100 percent in the past year.
Everyone took a hiatus for the summer, but the pick-up sessions started up again in early September and will go on from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. every Wednesday.
We have a mortgage broker, a plastics engineer, a construction worker, high school students
We welcome all skill levels and play a relaxed, but organized game. While the skate center isn't the Great Western Forum, which seems bigger when you are on the rink let me tell you, it's a venue for hockey.
It's a venue I appreciate because - as much as I'll miss summer - I'm really looking forward to hockey.
Ask my co-workers. It's all I talk about midweek now.
Hockey returns to P.A. skate center
Pick-up roller hockey is back in full slap-shot swing this fall at the Olympic Skate Center, at the corner of East Seventh and South Chase streets.
Players of all skill levels are invited to strap on some inline or quad skates, grab a stick and have fun from 7-9 p.m. every Wednesday during pick-up play.
The cost is $5 for players and goalies play for free. The pick-up format is a relaxed, yet organized three-on-three scrimmage.