Recently, I found a letter to my future self that I wrote 20 years ago. One of the questions I asked myself was if I was still playing ice hockey. I cannot time travel and give 11-year-old me an update (as most roads in Central PA have a speed limit under 88 mph), but the answer to that question is “yes.” But, what I never saw coming 20 years ago was discovering a new type of team camaraderie with adult ice skating—adult synchro skating with Revolution Ice Unity!
Interested in my journey to this point? Let’s flash back. I spent a lot of time in an ice rink during my childhood. My dad and aunt both played hockey, so I remember going to our local rink to watch my dad play or going to Hershey Bears games with my aunt, where we sat in the row behind the visiting team’s bench so it felt like we were right in the action. I remember assistant coaches drawing smiley faces on the glass, talking with my aunts’ friends in the same section, and one of my favorite activities, skating on the ice after the game (I also enjoyed singing along to oldies on the car ride home!).
Eventually, my older brother signed up for puddle hockey and I followed shortly after him. I enjoyed playing but wasn’t very good (something that is still true 20-some years later). I also didn’t always feel included because I was my brother’s annoying little sister, and we fought like brother and sister.
I didn’t want to play travel hockey since we were already traveling for my brother’s team and I was also horseback riding, playing soccer and softball, and taking dance classes.
My little sister had no desire to play hockey (“Stinky!” is probably a direct 1998 quote from her), but she also took dance classes and we were enchanted by the 1998 Olympic Winter Games—so my parents signed us up for Learn to Skate lessons. My sister was terrified of falling, and she would often practice wearing a hockey helmet and hockey pants. At one point she did fall and cut her leg on her skate, and decided she was done.
I liked skating, but I didn’t like being alone. In soccer, softball, or hockey, I was out there with a team. Even in horseback riding competitions, I was with the horse. I felt alone figure skating, and even more so at the thought of going to classes without my sister. I also don’t think I have the desire to win for the sake of winning as an individual. In a team setting, I like to push myself to be better for the overall goal of the team and enjoy having fun together working for the same goal. For these reasons, I stopped figure skating.
The Middle Years
As a middle schooler, I learned of a girls’ hockey team in Central Pennsylvania that I ended up joining. I cannot remember any individual games, but I do remember making jokes while doing dryland, going to team picnics, car rides at 5 a.m., learning about what classes to take from older girls once I was in high school like them, and feeling in general, included. Due to more intense other activities at school, I eventually ended up playing junior high hockey before taking a 13-year hiatus from the sport because I did not have the skills to continue playing and was focusing on the other activities in my life including orchestra, field hockey, musical, my full course load, and jobs. After stopping, the next time I skated was on the Ottawa Canal when I was in college. I also stopped dancing after my senior year of high school because I was afraid to take dance classes in college.
My professional life took me to Florida after college, where I worked 60-hour work weeks in the sun. Other than nerding it up at a weekly trivia night, I didn’t have any hobbies because I didn’t have time, energy, or money. I missed my family, so I ended up moving back to Pennsylvania and taking a job that is only 40 hours a week with a consistent schedule. For the first time, that provided me with something new…free time!
My brother has played over a thousand Adult League hockey games. He is still on a team with my dad and substitutes for other teams that need a guy to even out their bench. Once I moved home, I started joining my dad in attending my brother’s additional games. I’ve really enjoyed spending that time with him. From watching the games, I started getting the itch to play again, and once I realized I had solid health insurance (just in case), I wiggled my way onto the same Adult League team as my dad and brother. Through this team, I met Revolution Ice Unity skater Chelsea, who invited me to try figure skating with this up-and-coming adult synchronized skating team.
In Love with Being in Synch
Going from hockey to figure skating, when I started synchro in September of 2020, was strange. Hockey skates feel thinner and are rounded on the toe and heel of the blade. Figure skates have a toe pick that feels like unexpectedly hitting the end of an escalator when I accidentally catch it on the ice (definitely a “when” and not an “if” situation for me).
What I love about synchro skating is that when I do fall, I have a team with me to pick me up (with words of motivation or physically if need be). I have been invited into a sport that combines my love of dance, ice, and the need to be on a team, and I am grateful for this reason to wake up early on Saturday mornings!