November 11, 2018

Childhood's end?

The silence of the roadsters is deafening.

Even after last week’s call to arms, only Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s founding father, Living Legend, and Nouvelle Guy answered on yet another perfect day to play.

Vague promises of players recommitting have yet to be realized with sticks in the pile, bodies on the sidelines. Remember when teams could form two lines and some players would complain that meant they didn’t get enough court time?

Even the comments board on roadhockey.net has gone quiet, save for the Cialis spam.

So, perhaps it’s only appropriate we turn this issue of roadhockey.net over to the commissioner:

Road hockey is the game of our youth.
For 27 years, Sunday Morning Road Hockey has been a weekly connection with our younger selves, even as the passage of time renders us greyer, slower, less agile.
For two or so hours a week, we could be 12 years-old again, throwing our sticks into a pile to choose up sides, racing after the evil orange plastic ball with delusions of Gretzky dancing in our heads.
The game was an escape, a world separated from the reality of jobs, relationships, the responsibilities and pressures of adulthood. We gave each other goofy nicknames because that’s what hockey players used to do and the newly-forged monikers affirmed the divide of our road hockey selves from the realities of our day-to-day lives.
Somehow, the formula endured even as players came and went. Games would be won and lost on a weekly basis, but the culture of the game never wavered, and every roadster became very protective of it.
That’s why we played in the rain. That’s why we shoveled snow and ice. That’s why we played through injury and illness. That’s why we scoured for new recruits when the ranks thinned. Because if the game ever went away, it would feel like we’d lost a piece of our youth.
It’s hard to say how many roadsters chased the evil orange plastic over the years. Some alighted for a game and never returned, others encamped for years.
Sunday Morning Road Hockey started as a bunch of work colleagues blowing off a little steam on a decommissioned tennis court. The nets were spare boots and jackets. The players brave enough to guard those nets did so with little more protection than a worn baseball glove and a goalie stick. One of them stuck to that ethos for so long, he became legendary.
When the courts were opened a couple of years later as part of a school reconstruction, the game moved but its spirit remained rooted at those tennis courts where it was all about running around, having a few laughs, scoring a few goals, then heading home tired and eager for the next game. The very same spirit that drew us out as kids into the cold winter air after dinner so we could “take shots’ with our buddies under the streetlights, or anticipating a snowfall because we knew the snowplow would make the street slick and, for a day or two, we could slide around in our boots during a game like real hockey players, or studying our hockey cards to be able to call play-by-play.
Most of those kids grew up. But for those who refused, who clung to those innocent days, I would hope it’s been a heck of a lot of fun.

Living Legend

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:32 PM | Comments (12)

November 04, 2018

Requiem for Sunday Morning Road Hockey?

Sunday morning’s wind blew away Saturday’s deluge of rain, but the cloud that hangs over the future of Sunday Morning Road Hockey persists.

Even with the extra hour of sleep brought by the annual return to Standard Time, and perfect mid-fall playing conditions, the roadsters were a no-show. After last week’s rainout, that means in the season’s four weeks so far, the roadsters haven’t played as much as they have.

Whether they’ll ever play again has become a real question.

Dismay over last spring’s truncated Stanley Stick finale that cast a pall over the off-season, combined with a poor showing at the mid-summer scrimmage and the cancellation of the pre-season, meant the league’s future was already hanging by a thread.

The return of a solid core of dedicated veterans for the season’s opening two games offered a glimmer of hope, along with the promise of more returning players as well as some new recruits. But on a bright, breezy November morning, the hope that Sunday Morning Road Hockey may have put the tumult of its 26th year behind it and could forge on with its 27th may have been extinguished.

Momentum is a fickle thing in road hockey. Just as a game can turn on an opportune goal, the season can gather its legs with a shift in the weather or a rallying of resilience. So far this season, though, it seems there’s been no inclination to take advantage of the former or to execute the latter.

In days of yore, the default of Sunday Morning Road Hockey was always to play, at any cost. The game didn’t stop because of torrential rain, or biting cold, nor blowing snow. In fact, games in difficult circumstances became one of the league’s touchstones, it’s ongoing point of pride that made the roadsters love it all the more and fight for its survival.

That included building back the rosters through generations of players.

Perhaps, after 26 years, the fight to go on has finally gone.

Convening half-court games just to get a run in wears thin when roadsters travel from near and far. Leaving the comfort of home and the company of family for the chance to chase the evil orange plastic ball loses its luster when you’re the only player at the road hockey courts doing the chasing.

Sunday Morning Road Hockey is in crisis, and only the players can save it by actually playing.

Posted by jaysuburb at 04:52 PM | Comments (5)