Saturday, November 26, 2011

Yeah, I'm getting old

Here I am, less than a week away from hitting the mid-century mark, and I get a not-so-very-subtle reminder this morning that I'm not nearly as young as I think I am. Or, more honestly, some parts aren't as nimble or flexible as they were so many years ago.

After watching Colin whiff on a few one-timers in his past few games, it was time to spend a little quality hockey time with him so he could get the timing and the all-important mechanics down. One-timers may look simple, but they're far from it. So, after a Thanksgiving Day session out back on the patio, where I must have said "Keep your head down" at least two dozen times, we went to a roller hockey rink in Clearwater this morning to get in some more work.

Upon arrival, we soon learned that the rink can also be used for soccer. Kinda funny, though, I always thought soccer was played on a pitch, which is much, much larger than a roller hockey rink. Then again, the participants weren't kids, but they weren't old-timers, either.

Rather than turn around and head home, Colin spied an unattended tennis court nearby with tall enough fences that would serve to catch any errant shots. Soon enough, after lacing up his inline hockey skates and taking a few laps around the court, he was good to go, remembering to keep his head down as I passed pucks right in his wheelhouse.

After about a dozen or so sets of four pucks each, he asked if we could reverse roles. He'd pass me the pucks and I'd work on my one-timer. Remember, now, that last time I took a one-timer, in a competitive situation, was more than 20 years ago. Still, it's like riding a horse. All I had to do was keep my head down, transfer my weight -- and there's a lot of it -- from the back to front foot and twist my hips.

Well, I wish it were that simple. The pass was good and I kept my head down. It was that whole transfer-of-weight-and-twisting-my-hips thing, though, that didn't work out so well. Having degenerative disk disease in my spine and faulty hip sockets, brought about from years of playing hockey, baseball and beach volleyball as well as my immense heft, I should have known better than to try this. But, I didn't.

It was the classic case of my left hip being unable to cash the check that my 20-something mind and will had written. About the moment I lifted my left heel to start the twisting transfer of power, it felt like someone drove a screwdriver into my left hip socket. I'm not sure how or why I didn't fall, but Colin saw enough grimacing on my face to notice that something hurt.

"You OK, Dad" he asked.

"Well, buddy," I replied, "I won't be trying that again."

Yes, it would have been easy to call it a day after that. But, even at my age and size, I'm still a hockey player. I'll always take what God has given me and use what's left. Because it didn't hurt to take one-timers off my back foot, placing absolutely no weight or pressure on my left leg, that's what we did for the next few minutes.

Finally, the "soccer" players left the rink. We made our way over and honored its purpose, spending the next 25 minutes or so working on Colin's one-timer, passing rather than shooting the puck and taking rink-long shots.

I knew enough, thankfully, that I'd had enough. With age, I've been told, comes wisdom.

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