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shooter27

Time to officially hang em up?

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I’m a former NCAA player and I played men’s league for a number of years after college. But, I’m 37 now and haven’t been on the ice in about 4 years.  I’ve still got all my gear lying around, but I’m wondering if it’s time for me to officially hang em up and get rid of everything.  The closest I’ve come to playing the game in the last few years has been stickhandling a ball around the garage when I’m bored.  

Obviously I still love the game and I still read some stuff on here, but every time I start to think about signing up for men’s league again it just seems like a hassle.  The last thing I want to do is go play with a bunch of 21 year olds that have aged out of junior B and still play the game like they think scouts are in the stands to give them their big break.  And, without sounding like a jerk, when I’ve tried playing lower level men’s league, it’s just not competitive enough to be fun to me.  So basically I’m looking for some thoughts/suggestions on if people think I should just hang em up or maybe I’ll find somewhere to play again to have fun. 

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I'd reach out to some hockey playing friends in your area and talk to them about any private leagues or pickup games they might play in that are fun and relaxed with players around your level. 

I don't know about your area, but there are some small private leagues in my area that don't publicly advertise and they're run at cost. Most of the players know each other and you can only join by invitation. There are some low level, mixed level and high level private leagues. They're generally cheaper as well as less chippy since most people know each other (people still lose their temper here and there, but as a whole they're generally better than most of the bigger leagues).

I play in a private draft league for roller hockey early Sunday mornings and wouldn't mind joining one for ice, but for now just play in a cheap late night Friday ice league that's lower level because it's cheap and works for my schedule. I stopped playing in the bigger ice leagues during the prime time slots about 5 years ago because I found them to be expensive (around $650 for 23 50 minute games plus playoffs is around what you pay in my area now - I only pay $300 for the late night league I play in and even less for the private inline league; so I can play in two leagues for less than the price of one prime time league) and it was a real pain getting to early games with the terrible traffic in my city.

Edited by althoma1

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I'm 53 and been playing for a long time. I am way past my prime but still play in a B/C league with players young enough to be my kid (who is on my team). Heck, I use to coach some of the kids I play against. The first thing is having fun. If your not having fun then why do it. If your not having fun in a higher level then play in a lower level that you enjoy and use your skill and experience to help other players get better. I did this for awhile and it got a lot of enjoyment helping players progress. I've played in leagues with the same Junior B, gonna make it to the big show players. It is never fun chasing the game so you have to accept your limitations and use your experience for an advantage. Sometimes the kids learn on their own what beer league means and sometimes you have to remind them. To me it comes down to the love of the game. I will play at whatever level I need to so I can keep playing.  

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I know a bunch of guys who refuse to play in leagues for various reasons. They just stick to pickup. Maybe give that a shot? We have a group that have been mostly playing together for decades. So it’s a good group generally.

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I think maybe you have to figure out what you want out of hockey. Do you want real competition or do you just want go for a skate with a bunch of good guys and have some laughs and a beer after. I'm in my mid 40's. I'm a terrible player, but I play men's league for a bit of competition, and I play co-ed for laughs.

When I hit 40, I felt myself falling out of love for the game. I wasn't looking forward to games anymore. Then, a health issue popped up and made it so I couldn't play. The issue was significant but not too serious. Easily treated, but it kicked the crap out of my body to the point where I literally had to learn how to skate again. The time away made me realize how much I missed hockey and what I really loved about it and what I really want out of it.

When I join a team, I don't look around the dressing room and wonder if I can win with these guys, I ask myself, "Can I lose with them?" I find that has served me well. No matter win or lose, there's always laughs afterwards.

With Co-ed, I found challenges for myself that made the game fun again. I sometimes play with people who started hockey late or who just aren't that skilled. Nothing gives me more joy than setting them up for opportunities. This summer I'm on a team with a girl who's been playing for three years, but she's never scored a goal that wasn't a lucky bounce off her rump. But that changed last night when she took a backdoor pass and slammed it into the back of the net. She has friends on both teams so there was a lot of cheering. 

For me, hockey is a lot about the people now. I still like me a bit of competition, but it's not he be-all any more. I just want to pass the puck around, make plays, and maybe pop one in once in a while. But that's just an excuse to have some laughs after the game. That's what I want.

Now, you have to ask yourself, what you want and go out and find it. IMHO.

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There are over 40 (ages vary rink to rink) leagues to consider.  Don't sell your gear no matter your decision, cuz you can always change your mind in the future. 

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Howdy,

Starting hockey at age 46 (I'm 48 now) I can't relate to having played 'real' hockey.  But I can relate to "this hobby I've been serious about for a really long time isn't that important to me any more"...  In my case it was motorsports, which I was fairly serious about from college age until just recently.

My take on it... If you're not interested in playing hockey with the groups in your area... Don't play.  There's no harm in that or something to feel guilty about.  It's not like its putting food on your table or something.  Take a break from it.  If you miss it, start back up.  Given that you haven't been on the ice in 4 years, you should be in a pretty good position to decide if you think you're going to want to start again, certainly better than anyone here would be.  If not... Sure, sell your stuff if you'd rather not be tripping over it.  If you get the bug later, you can always get new gear.  Given that it's been four years, maybe try and play some pickup or a league session or whatever if you just want to be sure.

If you're missing the ice time, but not missing league stuff you don't like, then some of the suggestions above are what I'd focus on.  See if there's a kid's rec league you can help out with.  Jump on a team with a buddy that's way more about being out there with your buddy and way less about being out there trying to win.  Or, if you want a high level of hockey but without Jonny-try-hard bs, then I'd look around and see if that's available near you.  Around me (Pittsburgh, PA area), there seem to be enough leagues that if you willing to look around you can find something that matches up to basically any need you have, (seemingly) most certainly including "decent paced hockey without guys thinking its game seven for the cup".  But I have no clue what's around you.

Mark

Edited by marka
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Appreciate all the thoughts from everyone.  Reading the replies I think one of the big problems is that I don’t have any close buddies that play locally.  I moved out to LA about 9 years ago.  The first two years I was getting my MBA and didn’t have the time to play.  I picked it back up after that, but basically got put on a random team and never got particularly close with any of the guys.  I had one buddy from college that I played with after that first year but he had kids a few years back and stopped playing.  The problem may partially be me as I’ve never been the most outgoing personality.  The idea of playing keeps crossing my mind, but when it come time to pull the trigger I keep hesitating.  

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20 hours ago, shooter27 said:

 The problem may partially be me as I’ve never been the most outgoing personality.

As a card carrying introvert, I hear you man. It can be difficult getting invested in hockey or a team when teammates are at best only acquaintances. This summer, I played on a couple of teams. Only one had someone I'd consider a friend on it. The hockey was fine, but there was something missing. But on one team, I got to know the people better as the season went on, and I got a long with them pretty well. That's when the fun factor went up for me, and I started to look forward to the games with them. With the other team, it was more of an excuse to get some exercise. 

As this was happening, I found out that a winter team that I've been playing on for 17 years is short on players and is on the verge of folding. Word has gotten around and other teams are looking to pick at the carcass. Our goalie, who's a good friend of mine, has an offer to play with another team. I've got an offer to play for different team, but as I thought about it, I realized I'd rather be playing with my goalie friend. And if there was an opportunity to join that team with him, I'd jump on it in a second.

Playing with strangers is fine and all, but playing the game with friends, real friends, is where it's at. With friends, you create memories. With strangers, it's just exercise. At least that's the way I think of it. 

Who knows what will happen if you jump on a random team? You might make friends. You might not. Maybe try being a hockey whore and sub on a bunch of teams. No commitment, but maybe you'll get lucky and meet some good people that you enjoy having beers with.

My 2 cents.

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14 hours ago, puckpilot said:

As a card carrying introvert, I hear you man. It can be difficult getting invested in hockey or a team when teammates are at best only acquaintances. This summer, I played on a couple of teams. Only one had someone I'd consider a friend on it. The hockey was fine, but there was something missing. But on one team, I got to know the people better as the season went on, and I got a long with them pretty well. That's when the fun factor went up for me, and I started to look forward to the games with them. With the other team, it was more of an excuse to get some exercise. 

As this was happening, I found out that a winter team that I've been playing on for 17 years is short on players and is on the verge of folding. Word has gotten around and other teams are looking to pick at the carcass. Our goalie, who's a good friend of mine, has an offer to play with another team. I've got an offer to play for different team, but as I thought about it, I realized I'd rather be playing with my goalie friend. And if there was an opportunity to join that team with him, I'd jump on it in a second.

Playing with strangers is fine and all, but playing the game with friends, real friends, is where it's at. With friends, you create memories. With strangers, it's just exercise. At least that's the way I think of it. 

Who knows what will happen if you jump on a random team? You might make friends. You might not. Maybe try being a hockey whore and sub on a bunch of teams. No commitment, but maybe you'll get lucky and meet some good people that you enjoy having beers with.

My 2 cents.

You definitely typed what I would have typed! Great advice!

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@shooter27 Lots of great advice given here. 

My tuppence: it is hard as hell to take bad hockey along with not knowing people. I was lucky that I literally stopped playing so long ago that I looked like a downright beginner when I had returned, so I did not have that problem of playing bad hockey. I, too, am an introvert DESPITE having spent 27 years in a sales job! I really like to turn it off when not in sales mode and I want total separation from sales mode and outside of sales mode. So it is harder to get to know people.

Your ability, skills and experience could open the door for playing in a group where decent hockey and MUCH better friendships could blossom. You have something to offer less skilled players and the satisfaction of people trying and learning to play up to you can be quite great. 

If you need to take a break, take a break. Don’t sell off your gear until you know that you’re completely done or your gear would look cool hanging on the walls or ceiling of a hockey or sports-themed bar/restaurant.

Edited by bunnyman666
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I was playing in a league for a while and I found it to be miserable.  It was to the point where I didn't want to go to games anymore.  Last year I decided I was just going to play in a private pick up game with some guys I have known for a few years.  I found it to be way more enjoyable and the only thing I hated about it was waiting a week to play with that group again.  I also have a solid group of 4-6 close friends that we all will make plans to go to certain open sessions together.  Makes it way more enjoyable for me than going to open hockey and not knowing anyone there.  FWIW age 30 former ACHA player. 

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Don't toss your shit, because you never know when you might change your mind; just put in storage or whatever. You really never know when the itch might hit you again. I'm 57 and sorry I didn't play at all between 28 and 53; I never really stopped intentionally: I just skipped a season, which became 2 seasons...and then 25 seasons. Started thinking about it in 2013 because there was a new rink that opened up right near me (since closed for good) and the wife and I started talking about hockey during the Winter Olympics that year. You may just decide to skate for the workout someday or get on the ice with your kids if you end up having any and you're going to hate having to get all new shit because you tossed yours out.

Right now, I'm sidelined with a badly herniated L-2/L-3 disk and my main concern about it is just getting the F back on the ice;  I'm just hoping this doesn't cost me more than one 6-month season. It happened 7 weeks ago and I'm hoping to be able to start skating on my own again after 3-6 months and then be ready to play again by next April or May. Had to withdraw from my team and miss the whole second half of the season that just ended. The 50+ league I've played in for the last 4 years is mostly the same 90 or 100 guys split up into 6 different teams every 6 months. It's very cool to know and play with and against the same core group of guys every season for years, even if you don't really hang out with any of them outside of seeing everybody at games and sticks & pucks when any of them has the time to practice during the week. I tend to be very outgoing within any group I'm already organically a part of but practically a loner-hermit otherwise and totally self-sufficient and content never to go out of my way to socialize at all (unless you count strippers). Social connection was the last thing on my mind when I started playing again, but I have to admit that I do miss that aspect of it, now that I'm out.

Edited by YesLanges
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If you have it, I would look for an over 30 league. I still play in the "open" leagues from time to time, but my over 30 ABC line league is much more fun, still very competitive and we play twice a week. If you can find something like this, I have no doubt your love for the game will come roaring back. For me, it's been one of the best playing decisions I've made since playing beer league. I've actually made more friends in this league than I have over the course of all the other years just playing in 18 over.

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Looking at this slightly askance, you may consider the following possibility:

You could always coach....

I don't know what part of LA you live in, but if you're close to any of the local youth rinks and have the time, you may find your love for the game is rekindled when you step on the ice as a coach.   It happened for me (former NCAA player, disenchanted with beer leagues, introvert, etc....)

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On 9/7/2018 at 7:47 PM, shooter27 said:

Coaching sounds like an interesting idea.  I believe USAHockey has a course that you have to take, right?  How did you get involved with coaching?

Yeah, there are definitely some hoops you have to jump through before you can coach, but none are particularly arduous...

From a USA Hockey perspective, you'll have to register with USA Hockey and attend a Level 1 Coaching Clinic - it's a 3/4 day deal where you'll get fed the basic USA Hockey royal jelly about the ADM coaching philosophy and perhaps get on the ice to participate in a pre-designed practice.  Then, you'll have to complete your 'age group modules', which are simply on-line training courses that focus specifically on an individual age group - i.e., if you're coaching 8U, you'll have to do the 8U online module.  Additionally, you'll have to complete SafeSport training, which is also an online course focusing on recognizing, reporting, and (hopefully) preventing instances of abuse. 

Information on the national requirements can be found here.

There are also some state requirements - you're in LA, so any association you might get hooked up with would be part of CAHA and SCAHA.  CAHA requires that you get SafeSport certified and pass a background check (info here) and SCAHA requires that you register for what they call a 'Season Pass' on their site here (fair warning - SCAHA's website both sucks and blows...).  

Finally, whichever club you wind up getting hooked up with may have some additional education requirements.  For instance, our club requires that all coaches be 'Heads Up' certified, which is a concussion awareness and recognition program.  

As far as how I got into it, when I was in graduate school, a friend of the family was involved in youth hockey in the city where I went to school.  He got me hooked up with the coach of one of the AAA teams, who just so happened to be looking for a defensive specialist for their 14U team.  Being a defenseman it was a natural fit, so I joined that club as an assistant. I did that for a couple of years, then life and circumstance conspired to take me out of the coaching game until after my son was born.  A relocation to California combined with a massive level of dissatisfaction with the quality of coaching we initially had out here....and, boom, now I'm a hockey coach!

For you, your best bet is probably to figure out which of the clubs uses your local rink as their 'home base'; then get in there and make yourself known.  You'll kind of have to play it by ear and navigate as you go...but with your experience with higher level hockey, I'm sure that if you're willing, they'll find a place for you!

Good luck!

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Rule # 1 Do not throw out your gear. Ever. The cost to get back into hockey and the thought of breaking in new skates will stop you before you even tape up a stick. 

I think everyone’s advice has been excellent. Sooner or later you will find the right group of guys. I encourage the pick up game over the beer league. I’ve been playing pick up every Friday Night with the same guys(a core of 10 still remain) over 30 years. A lot of us are over 60 now but the exercise and the social benefits after the game are priceless.  Even though  I work in a hockey rink, I only play once a week in another rink (Don’t shit where you eat). But I look so forward to Friday to skate that it makes the wait worth it.  It’s literally a physical and mental vacation from life. 

You don’t stop skating because you get old.  You get old because you stopped skating. 

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Dude! Never hang em up! As many others have said already, it's all about finding the right group of guys just to have a good time out on the ice with. Whether that be a private pick up, or a lower level league, as long as you're having fun, that's all that matters.

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