As far as my personal identity and character relating to something I hold onto, it would primarily be my love for the game of ice hockey as well as my pride for the Detroit Red Wings. It was unfortunately all downhill once I moved to Ohio in May 1997 and later on came to an end when I was 17-18 with my health issues and lack of opportunities in Ohio for ice hockey at the time.
Growing up in Troy, Michigan, which is about 20 minutes outside of Detroit, the main sport was ice hockey. I suppose you could compare it to how serious people take Ohio State football here. I was introduced to hockey through my neighborhood friends, primarily brothers Scott and Eric G., and along with this came my pride, as well as loyalty, for the hometown Detroit Red Wings of the NHL (National Hockey League), which is the professional ice hockey league composed of the world’s best players.
I would play hockey with my friends whenever I had the chance. Most of the time it was outside in the driveway on roller-blades and when we had a larger group of people, we would play in the street. Scott and Eric were always willing to lace up and play hockey until the sun set concluding the day. Scott and Eric, along with their mother Mrs. G, were absolutely die-hard Detroit Red Wings fans and I thank them for passing on their passion to me.
When I moved to Ohio, literally almost no one knew what hockey was. It was terrible. I went from enjoying a sport that was a passion of the entire state of Michigan to a state who thrives on football, which isn’t a bad thing, it just isn’t for me. Luckily, by the smallest chance, my two friends Brendan and Bobby, who lived down the road, were hockey enthusiasts as well as die-hard Red Wings fans! Obviously this was completely unexpected, but it was great to find people who shared the same passions as myself.
As far as my “career” playing ice hockey, that first started in Michigan as well. I’ll never forget when my parents had to purchase all of the gear. They weren’t too thrilled with the price tag and I wasn’t too thrilled with the used equipment from “Play-It-Again Sports”. This purchase included used pants, that were in OK shape besides a few tears on the inside, a chest protector that looked like it was from the late 1980’s, along with the shin pads that were pretty musty. The elbow pads were pretty beat up too. I wasn’t necessarily disappointed, but it was just a bit strange to be wearing old gear that someone wore out and it was a bit outdated. I think the only pieces of equipment I had that were new were the ice skates, helmet and gloves. As I stuck with the sport and sharpened my skills, I obviously earned new and better gear as time went on. I still have all of my gear at the moment; my hockey bag is in the basement and my three hockey sticks are in my bedroom.
The feeling of stepping on the ice with razor sharp blades and pressing off, digging the blade into the smooth surface, creating a sound that the only way I can describe would be scraping your windshield clean, but that hardly does anything in comparison to how it actually sounds. Your feet mold to your ice skates making it feel like your feet are one with the blade. You feel the cool chill of the air rushing over your face and it intensifies as you pick up speed down the ice. The feeling of skating backwards as well as crossing-over your skates to cut the angle are both wild sensations as you propel yourself. All of these sensations are amplified when you are playing opponents and you are performing at your very best, but nothing beats the thrill of scoring a goal and earning a win with your teammates.
My personal pride for the Detroit Red Wings, as well as Detroit, stems back to my time in Michigan, as I stated. The easiest way to spot my pride is when I am wearing a hat; which is frequently, and almost always, one of my Red Wings hats. I'd say I also have pride form living close to Detroit since it was once a great and powerful city that provided ground-breaking ideas as well as jobs and homes for 1.86 million people at its peak. I'd love to see the city of Detroit rebuild itself to what it once was, but that is unfortunately a dream as time continues to tick on and the city continues to crumble.