OK, we’re jumping the gun a bit here. But the Muskie try-outs at the RCC got the ole “Let’s Play Hockey” juices flowing. The girls should be pretty good this year – pretty much have all of last year’s team back. And we have some really good (was going to use “pretty good,” but I used up my allotments of “pretty” in the previous sentence) players – it remains to be seen whether any will be of all-state caliber, but depth should be exceptional. We’ll still have to deal with the likes of a Rasmussen from Sartell, a definite D-1 college player. But first, a poem. OK, it was suppose to be a narrative poem, but it turned out just narrative. We were given 20 minutes to write it in the “Everybody Has a Story” Community Ed series and this was as far as I got:
[It was a small, but elite, group at the class.]
WRITE YOUR OWN STORY: NARRATIVE POEM
[From “Everyone Has A Story” Community Education Series – I hosted David Bengston on October 17, 2001, at Nelson Gables. During the class we were given 20 minutes to write about an object brought to class – I brought a Bemidji State hockey puck.]
It was the winter of 2003. Our second winter in Minnesota. I had recently read a story in the local newspaper about the girls’ high school hockey team. We did not even have a boys’ high school hockey team in my day; and, of course, there were no girl sports, at all!
So I decided to find out what it was all about. We were not going to be snowbirds, so we were in search of winter entertainment.
Minnesota girls always skated, of course – but in figure skates. Their skating strides mimicked those of straight ahead cross-country skiers. Boys wore hockey skates, and skated in the herringbone cross-country ski style – powerful side-to-side strokes bending forward at the waist.
I can still recall that first hockey game. The girls came out of the locker room and hit the ice in full stride – skating like boys! Maybe it’s the chauvinism in me – having grown up in an era when girls didn’t play sports – but I found myself mesmerized as these girls went through their warm-up drills looking every bit the polished athletes I had no clue existed.
I was hooked. I went to every game by myself. I sat in the “home adults” section in the stands. I was the only one there. The only adults who ever came to games were parents – and they sat together with the students. After several games, the parents – well, the hockey moms – decided to approach this strange old man who sat by himself at the games.
At first they thought I had to be a grandparent of one of the girls. After all, only relatives came to games. We got to know each other and I was accepted. I eventually talked other non-relatives into joining me at the games. We were amazed at the abilities . . .
The preceding explains the proceeding. As a kid, I played pick-up hockey or batted a puck around maybe ten times a winter. There was no organized hockey – remember? I believe by the time I reached high school I could finally raise the puck off the ice. Forty years later I watched junior high girls tuck wristers into the upper corners of the net. By the time I was a senior I thought I had a pretty respectable slap shot. After I saw 8th-grader Ashley Holmes blast a few from the blue line, I would have been ashamed to call mine a “slap shot.” So we watched and became Super Fans. This summer we’re sure our stalwarts tossed cabers and jogged through the logging trails with pianos on their backs. ‘Tis hockey, after all! Accordingly, the following is photographic retrospective – back to the beginning. Some of the photos are mine; many are stolen from mulitple sources or were thoughtfully “donated.” The photos will be displayed randomly – except for the beginning where we will feature this year’s sisters. Sisters appear to be invaluable to the success of hockey teams. Pay close attention – there will be a test at the end, a variety of 9 multiply choice, 9 true-false, and a 9-minute essay. That’s right: 9-9-9:
[Becca (37) and Claire (3) Illies – there is another Illius coming.]
[The Illiuses with Shelby Iverson]
OK, Claire is gone now. The world’s toughest 80-pounder. She went on to become a Concordia Cobber. She tryed out for the hockey team. There were 16 players, including two D-1 transfers, vying for 3 openings. She made the team.
[Stephanie and Melissa Drown. I believe there are more Drowns on the way.]
[Kalley (10) and Quinn Kragenbring (20)]
[Sara, Andrea, and Alison Toft – sisters from a by-gone day.]
If a techno-geek would like to put these photos to music – I would suggest “Ride of the Valkyries” by Wagner – that would be wonderful! 🙂 The girls’ season unofficially begins on November 5 with an all-day scrimmage invite. In this world of ever increasing scheduling conflicts, we will be at Basketball Dan’s annual turkeyfest that day. And always remember, when Abby Williams was once asked why she wore pink laces in her skates – her response was, “because it makes me look tough!”