Melissa Walsh

The Fountain of Youth Is the Frozen Pond

Powerplay Communications | April 17th, 2013 | Hockey Mom Sense blog: "The Fountain of Youth Is the Frozen Pond"

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"Don't retire until they tear the sweater off your back." ~ Bobby Clarke

Picture it: age 50-plus guys, some who've played hockey together since childhood, enjoying some "pops" following a tournament or league game. They're sharing stories of battles won or lost, a history of hockey tales ranging a timespan from over 40 years ago to an hour ago. They're laughing, smiling, joking. As they celebrate the game and endure aching knees, hips, shoulders, or backs, they feel a healing, magical energy derived only from competing hard as part of a hockey fraternity.

I began playing hockey in my early 40s, and as a result have felt incredibly energized, empowered, and youthful. For me, taking up the game relatively late in life was like a rebirth. I gained a new chance to grow skills and to compete, striving to become a hockey star. I've been blessed with fresh dreams and vibrant fun with my teammates and the wonderful senior women's hockey sisterhood.

As I witness my sons' enjoyment of the hockey game and its inherent will-to-win challenge, I fully understand the worth of playing the game at any level and at any age ~ the value of playing hockey is priceless. The end of my "investment" of time and money in my sons' youth-hockey journey is not landing a scholarship or pursuing a pro playing career; it is the chance to be forever young.

As my boyfriend's number-one fan, I've had the pleasure of being a spectator at Over-50 Tier-1 Senior Men's competitions, including the CARHA World Cup and the USA Hockey Senior Men's Nationals. Impressive. These seasoned men skate like early twenty-somethings, with sophisticated skills of hands and feet, sharp hockey-sense instincts, and effective man strength. They lose thirty years stepping onto the ice. And though their bodies may ache after each game, the ice preserves youth in their hearts.

So there it is, the secret to staying young at heart. Play hockey. Keep playing. And don't let anyone tear the sweater off your back.

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