Yesterday I had my first night of "beer league" hockey. What is beer league, you ask? Basically it's adult recreational hockey and, in theory, it involves drinking beer (it's on UrbanDictionary, you can look it up). Actually, I'm not really sure how the beer part works yet, since last night was the first night and nobody actually brought beer. Damn. I guess we'll start that next week.
Believe it or not I didn't sign up for this league because of the beer (really! I swear!) but because I wanted a chance to play hockey in a low-stakes setting where most of the players would be better than me (there are beer leagues for all levels, I just picked an "advanced" one). And so far it's worked out to be just that. I'm not the worst one there, but I'm in the bottom third, and I very well might be the oldest one there. There aren't a lot of us though, we played 4-on-4 with two subs on the bench. Needless to say I am very sore today.
I can't believe it's taken me two decades of playing hockey to find a my way into this type of group though. I play on a women's team during the regular season and we take that at least somewhat seriously. And I love that. But there was something really refreshing about playing with a bunch of strangers, most of whom could kick my ass, and just having fun. There are refs but there wasn't a single penalty (although apparently you can't take slap-shots from above the waist, that's just weird). It was just good clean hockey.
It's things like this that remind me why women's hockey is the best sport in the world. It's life-long in a way so many sports aren't. You can trip all over your skates as a kid, focus hard core as a teen, you can find friendship and drama in a rec team as an adult, and when you get too old (or too alcoholic?) to play "for real" you can just sink into a beer league and play for no other reason than because you love the game (and beer).
How many other sports can you say that about? Soccer, sure. But beer league javelin throw? I think not.