If you’re getting older and still playing hockey, you know that the game changes. But it’s often for the better.
Think about it. If you’re getting older and still playing hockey, you know your passion for the game might remain the same throughout the course of your life. But the way you approach the game is constantly changing and evolving.
If you began playing hockey as a young kid, the goal was simple: absorb as much hockey as you possibly can at all times, whether it’s watching your idols in the National Hockey League, taking shots on your friends on the street, or going to hockey practice at 6AM on a Saturday morning.
At that tender young age, the dream is alive and is a constant presence in your mind. Make it to the NHL someday and be the best there ever was. The reality that escapes most kids (and, sadly, their parents) is how difficult it is to make it to the Show. But it’s good for kids to dream a little, anyway.
As you grow older, you realize that you might not make the NHL just based on the sheer amount of competition—even in your immediate geographic region. While the dream may be pushed to the back of your mind, this doesn’t stop the sport from becoming more competitive than ever.
Boys and girls in their teenage years love to win more than almost anything, and this compels them to pour more into the sport than they ever have before. Playoffs, tournaments, and games against rivals become the only thing they think about all week long, and the outcome of the game can make or break their day.
Some might say these are the glory years, but adults will probably tell you otherwise. Once you get into your early 20s and beyond, the game starts to shift dramatically. The competition begins to fade and the comradery starts to take the forefront.
Hockey has a significant social component, regardless of how old you are. Sure, there was always the good-natured bantering with your teammates in the locker room before and after games. But it’s never more prevalent than in adult hockey leagues.
For many of us, hockey is our escape from the busy, stressful day-to-day lives we lead. The time we get to spend with our team every week is cherished; a way to get things off our chest, to laugh and smile, and to forget about everything else in the world for a couple hours.
Even when the game ends, grabbing a beer with the team is a tradition that many would never pass up. This is where lifelong friends are made.
Changes in Priorities
The hockey spectrum continues to slide in this direction the older you get. You find that as slower play creates less competition, people care more about making friends than making plays.
Hockey is a beautiful game in that regard. We are constantly changing over the course of our lives, and the game changes with us.
One thing is certain: No matter how old we are or how much we age, we’ll always love the game.
From an article appearing on the CARHA Hockey website. Published with permission of CARHA Hockey. All rights reserved.