From Section 308 Down to the Ice Surface

My history with the game of ice hockey is a pretty lengthy one for someone my age who got started at 38. Now at 51, I find myself facing new challenges. From keeping active and staying physically in shape enough to be able to lace up the skates without having worked up a 30 minute-workout worth of sweat in the process, to finding that initial balance of when the blades hit the ice.

And while I have played hockey for the better part of 14 years, I have never advanced above the C-level and mostly on the lower end of C or D … and sometimes playing in Rookie leagues as a 5 year old “Rookie” because my skating legs and physical abilities had fallen off after injury, break, or one reason or another.

This time is different, however. Because I am obese, have arthritis and have never had a particularly good diet, I have decided that through making better, more mindful decisions, and working with strength and conditioning trainers, dietitians (mostly through reading dietary guidelines) and my physicians to get my body in the best possible place it can be. 

At one point, I had set a goal of wanting to be able to play B-league hockey. While a noble goal and one that would be a very tall ask, I have decided to take a much more practical attitude toward my game. That is to be the very best 200 pound hockey player that I can be by optimizing my fitness, strength and abilities the best I am able.

To do this, I am unlikely to actually play in league hockey. League hockey is very conducive to injury in my. At least that has been my experience. And after 12 broken ribs, a separated shoulder, a torn bicep tendon and multiple concussions, I think that my playing days might be behind me. I’ll never say never. But my goals are to be able to play public pickup (shinny) or private games and be able to hold my own, not gasp for air, and be able to contribute in some nominal fashion to everyone having a good time and not be a drag on my assigned squad.

It is a long way down from the cheap seats to under the lights. Lets get started.

Today I start in section 308. That is…. 308 pounds. I’m 5 foot 10 inches, so you can get a pretty good idea of what I am working with. Over the course of the next year, I will document the steps I am taking to transform myself into not only a middle-aged hockey player, but one who is making the most of what God has given me for however many more years he plans to grace me on this planet.

So feel free to join along on the journey that will have ups, downs, celebrations, disappointments, and just about  every emotion that runs between. My first goal is to get back on the ice. To do this, I will feel I need to get down into the section 280 range. And get my cardio vascular system going. It may even involve some free weights and, good lord, burpees.

In the coming pages you will see all kind of things. From exercise attempts. Trials and tribulations to things I am certain are going to bring me a great deal of discomfort. But part of what has been bothering me the most over the last several months are the feelings of being too comfortable. And in the words of Jocko Willink, “there is no growth in the comfort zone.”

Michael Bagnall

I have been playing and participating in recreational ice hockey activities for the last 12 years. A late bloomer, I started at 38 and have played in leagues, tournaments and pick up (shinny) as well as multiple skills clinics and classes.

Recent Posts