We all know that hockey is an incredibly difficult sport. Over the summer, I got to experience that first hand. I’ve always been someone who has known how to skate but never have been necessarily good at it. But let me tell you, you put a stick and a puck in front of me, and tell me I have to control the puck while avoiding other players, all in an attempt to put the puck behind a giant padded man in front of the goal? Now that’s just impossible, for me at least.

The morning after my attempt at trying hockey, I was sore in every possible way, bruises on my knees from drills, cuts on my elbows, etc. Hockey is such an intricate sport, with multiple skills required just to grasp it. I couldn’t imagine doing everything I did yesterday, everyday.

When I first arrived at Ford Ice Center, I was greeted with all the gear that I’d need, including gloves, skates and a helmet. Then I proceeded to put on my gear, get a feel for all of it and truly understand how it feels to wear the sport and play it as well.

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For about an hour I was mentally preparing myself for what I was about to endure. Then, it was time for me to step on the ice. And what was the first thing that happened? Of course, I almost lost my footing and fell flat onto the ice. They had us skate around and get a feel for the ice, and I can not stress enough how truly difficult it is to ice skate with a long stick in your hand, influencing your balance. Then they started introducing us to different drills that taught us new ways to skate and balance, and turn, and stop. I like to think that I did a really good job and that I didn’t look totally lost, but I’m sure I did.

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We truly underestimate how hard it is to play hockey and how much talent you have to have. It gave me a completely different perspective on the game, and a new appreciation for every single hockey player. They make it look so easy to play and we as fans get frustrated when they mess up. But now that I’ve experienced it first hand, it’ll be a lot harder to get upset if P.K. can’t keep the puck in the zone, or Arvidsson can’t get the puck up high enough to get above the goalie’s pad.

This experience also made me love the sport more that I get to watch and cover every day. These guys play their absolute hearts out no matter the circumstances. Hockey is hard already to play, but you hear about players playing through injuries too! Playing through broken bones, concussions (which needs to stop), it’s just crazy to think I walked about with scratches and bruises, while some walk away without teeth. Cuts so bad that stitches are involved.

All in all, I recommend all of you to try it. It was hard and it hurt, but it was so worth it. You’ll walk away with bruises, but you’ll also walk away knowing that you got to play the amazing game we all love so much. It was all the experience I needed to respect this sport more than I imagined. Keep an eye out for Try Hockey For Free experiences at Ford Ice Center. It’s a great opportunity for adults to get a free taste of the sport!

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