Friday, February 26, 2016

For The Love Of The Game

It occurred to me tonight on my way to Thursday night ball hockey that, upon reflection, the game has been my life's true sporting passion.

Playing my second game in three days as a runner I could not help but be appreciative. Having begrudgingly accepted my running days were probably over after I developed a periformis injury during a game last Fall I have managed to rehab it enough that I'm back playing out. Rejoining the gym, losing twenty pounds and continuing with my maintenance chiropractic all have contributed to my resurrection. Having resigned myself to only playing goal I now feel confident that my "retirement" from playing out is premature. I'm back!

I love this game. I've played it as a kid on the neighborhood streets. I had played it as an intermural sport in school and college. I've played it my entire adult life either in competitive leagues (BBHL, ECBHL, MBHL) or weekly fun competitive pickup games in rinks, school gyms and recreation centres. I have been playing Sunday ball hockey in four different venues over  twenty eight straight years and remain one of only two guys who "went over the top" when it all started back in the eighties as a Maritime Life work league.

I have adapted over the years in response to aging and injury. When my lower back was problematic in the late nineties I transitioned to goaltending so I could continue to play without the pain caused by running on an unforgiving gym floor. Through road cycling and racing between 2002- 2011 I became leaner, fitter and stronger. My lower back issues improved primarily due to weight loss and the development of much improved core strength. I also addressed my pronation issues on advice of my chiropractor with the purchase of orthotics which also made a difference in my running capability. The end result was I was able to play out again on a competitive level.

 Competitive and club road cycling unfortunately led to a couple crash injuries in 2005 and 2011 that left a legacy of neck, shoulder, back and concussion issues. I found myself over the last five years re-focusing upon goaltending, partly in response to my aging body and partly to the lack of available goaltenders. I missed playing out but was happy to fill the goalie void. It was easier on my body. I did occasionally have a chance to play out but my lack of cardio fitness and the demands of stop/start hard surface running meant I usually suffered. It culminated with the periformis injury this past September that left me with pain, numbness and stiffness in my left leg. Fearing further injury I accepted that my running days were over and was simply relieved I could still play goal despite the wonky leg. There is nothing as permanent as change, however, and there arose an opportunity of late to give one more kick at the proverbial can and I was keen to accept the challenge.

Now I am back in a win/win happy place where I can (apparently) play both goal and out as a runner at a capable level. Time, frequency and effort will tell. My fifty two year old body continues to protest usually the day after running about the gym floor but strength training, HIIT (spin classes), an attention to nutrition and chiropractic care helps mitigates the effect while a lifelong passion for the game keeps me motivated to stop and/or chase that iconic orange Mylec ball.

 I participate in softball, I continue to love cycling and have embraced traditional archery but my epitaph should read that I had a passion, and love, for the game.

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