It’s Never Too Late…

Sometimes, against all odds, you get a do-over in life. A shot at an opportunity you never had, or maybe wouldn’t have been ready for anyway. I got just such a chance this year on the Dartmouth College Women’s Club Hockey Team.

My Dartmouth Women's Club Hockey Jersey

My Dartmouth Women’s Club Hockey Jersey

Due to a dozen players studying abroad last fall (a quirky result of Dartmouth’s D-Plan), the Women’s Club Hockey team was reduced to 7 players. And, since Dartmouth’s Club Sports are open to students, faculty & staff, I’m eligible.

So, at 43 years old, I got my chance to play competitive hockey with women less than half my age in games against Harvard University, Endicott College (recap here), and the University of New Hampshire.

The highlight, though, was our away game against MIT in Boston.

ROAD TRIP! Shipping down to Boston on the team bus.

ROAD TRIP! Shipping down to Boston on the team bus.

With just 5 skaters (and a goalie), our club team boldly took on their full roster of 17 skaters (plus 2 goalies)… and TIED! We skated with NO SUBSTITUTES and found ourselves scoreless after 3 fifteen-minute periods.

We were delighted! …until the game went into overtime. (Overtime? Really??)

Five more minutes of intense effort, and still no one scored. When the final buzzer sounded, we celebrated the unlikely result, giddy with exhaustion.

See that scoreboard in the upper right? It says 0-0, baby!

See that scoreboard in the upper right? It says 0-0, baby!

It was the most improbable outcome in the most improbable game I have ever played. And I am so grateful I had the chance, grateful that these talented young women welcomed me on their team with open hearts.

The Dartmouth Women's Club Hockey Team, exhausted but giddy with our tie game.

The Dartmouth Women’s Club Hockey Team, exhausted but giddy with our tie game.

As George Eliot put it, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

Up, Up Deep Purple!

Tonight, my bottom-of-the-league hockey team, Deep Purple, has a round one playoff game versus the top team, the Red Devils.

Carrie Cahill Mulligan skates with team Deep Purple in the 2012 Campion Hockey League, near Hanover, NH.

Trying to get lower — hockey skating requires single leg strength & stability.

This is my 3rd winter playing in the CHL (Campion Hockey League), and I won’t lie. With our 1-19-1 record, it’s been a character-building year.

We’re an expansion team, made up entirely of folks who’d never played together before. Ever. Some players had only a year or 2 experience as adult beginners before signing up.

There were some ugly losses early on. Ugly.

Carrie Cahill Mulligan of team Deep Purple squares off against Rob Callow of the Screaming Eagles, Campion Hockey League (CHL), Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Keep your head up to read the play & try to anticipate your opponent’s moves.

But, as the season progressed, so did we. Games got much closer as players got more confident and put more pucks on net.

Hockey is a funny game. Sometimes you get a lucky bounce. Hard work can beat talent, if talent doesn’t work hard.

Carrie Cahill Mulligan of team Deep Purple rushes the net to support the puck in the 2013 Campion Hockey League, near Hanover, New Hampshire.

Rushing the net without the puck supports the play and helps generate secondary scoring chances. (Keep your stick on the ice, though.)

Would I bet money on my #8 team tonight? Maybe not.

But I wouldn’t bet against us, either. You just never know. Hockey is a funny game.

Adult Learn-to-Play Hockey: A Beginner’s Perpective

Reading my interviews with longtime teammates, Ceci & Rick, you could get the (false) impression that the Campion Learn-to-Play Hockey program is packed with folks who’ve been skating already for years.

So, for a beginner’s perspective, meet one of our newest players, John Storck. A naturally athletic guy, John has coached sailing at Dartmouth since 2005, but only started playing ice hockey last winter:

Coach Dodds explains a drill to Learn-to-Play adults at Campion Rink, Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Coach Dodds explains a drill to Learn-to-Play adults at Campion Rink.

CCM: What do you love about playing hockey?

John: “Hockey combines so many aspects of other sports. It has fluidity in teamwork like soccer, lacrosse and basketball. It has physical play like football and rugby. And it provides the weightless gliding sensation found in sports like skiing and surfing. I guess I love everything about playing hockey….even back-checking!”

CCM: What do you love about the Campion Learn-to-Play program with Coach Dodds?

John: “The atmosphere. At any given session, there is a range in age of over twenty years. However, everyone is playing the game with the same attitude of a ten year old. Coach Dodds really nurtures that atmosphere well with his enthusiasm. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of.”

CCM: What would you say to someone considering starting hockey later in life?

John: “DO IT! Even if you don’t end up falling in love with the sport, there is even less of a chance that you’ll have a bad time.”

Playing hockey in my favorite red jersey from the Dick Dodds Hockey Academy for  Adults at Campion Rink , near Hanover, New Hampshire.

***The next Learn-to-Skate, Learn-to-Play and Intermediate Hockey sessions at Campion Rink run from January 3 to March 28, 2013. Find out more and sign up online!