Houston Aeros 1994-2013: Thank you for all the great memories and two decades of great hockey and entertainment.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A little essay on dreams coming true... some day

Just ran across this fantastic story (watch the video, too) about a reporter/amateur goalie who got to come out and practice in goal with the Portland Pirates (one of those Eastern AHL teams you never get to see). It's a wonderful piece that really does a great job conveying a unique experience.

I remember when I first started writing about the Aeros for PHN, I was still learning to play hockey and just skating out as a forward. But I knew playing goal was on the horizon because all I wanted to be was a goalie. And I had this great story/video idea to get out there with Brusty or one of the other goalies and have them show me some moves and put me through the paces. Then I'd write about it and it would be awesome.

I knew it would be rough and I'd make an ass of myself in front of, basically, my heroes. But honestly, some of my best writing has come at the hands of dire humiliation. I'm nothing if not willing to suffer for my craft.

When I finally had all my goalie gear assembled (not a cheap endeavor), I went up to Sugar Land during public ice and just wore my lower half gear to skate around in it and "get used to" it (little did I know getting used to it would take 6 months). I was sweating just trying to put it on. People are staring but I don't care because I'm so proud to "be a goalie" finally. "You're just jealous of my new, awkward adventure, gawkers!" I told myself.

And then, the moment I hit the ice, I knew there was NO FREAKING WAY I was going anywhere near an Aeros goalie or pro players, particularly in front of a camera, for a long, LONG time. This was WAY harder than it looks. I quietly hoped the PR guy I'd mentioned the story idea to would forget I ever said anything. I was not willing to suffer this much for my craft, much less inflict such suffering on my hosts.

Here's the thing: If you've never worn goalie gear, the best way I can describe it is like a cross between wearing one of those sumo costumes and being completely naked.

You feel at once so weighted down and overstuffed with gear, you can't imagine moving with any kind of fluidity the way you see the pros do it, but you also feel so clumsy, foolish, and awkward that you might as well be standing there bare ass. Also, it is Africa Hot in those 30-40 lbs of gear. Like being 6" from the sun and wrapped in a wool blanket.

Not to mention the skates, which feel like clown shoes relative to player skates. Heavy, flat, long. They're awful at first.

Now add skating to it. Then add butterflying, sliding, and worst of all... GETTING UP. I'm 2 years in and still not very good at that. And I know after reading this goalie's account, I'm still a long way away from putting this request in front of Coach Yeo. Those guys would crush me like a soft, defenseless bug being beaten with a leaky can of Raid.

But some day... some day...

I'm not a bucket list person, but if I were, taking a practice with a pro team would be on it. Just not on a day where coach is pissed and making 'em do Herbies.

Some advice for when it happens: Aim high, boys, because I'm short and I go down quicker than a $2 hooker, but don't screen me because my cup checking instincts are strong and involuntary.

Woosh.... Only knew to look back because I felt the breeze by my ear.

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