Remember when you were little, and the sky was the limit in your mind? Some kids wanted to be astronauts, others wanted to be president. Still others wanted to be movie stars, or even train engineers (hey, lots of young kids loved trains – my younger brother was a freak about it … he ended up becoming an engineer, but not a train engineer).
I didn’t want to be any of these. No, instead, I wanted to be an ice hockey goalie. Sure, I had never, ever ice-skated before, but I figured that would be easy enough to learn. I was decent in all sports, but in my school, I was one of the best floor hockey players in my class. I used to wow the classmates in gym class … probably because hardly any of them played street hockey like I did on a religious basis. I was great in net, and had a devasting left-handed wrist shot … plus, my ball-handling skills were impeccable (and I was pretty good in hockey too … hey-yo!).
The problem is that I didn’t grow up in Canada (or Sweden, or any other place that had lots of ice). In fact, at the time, there really weren’t many opportunities for kids in our area to play hockey … and the opportunities that WERE available were, quite honestly, out of our price range. Still, I thought that somehow, someday, I would be playing ice hockey for my favorite team, the Philadelphia Flyers. I would someday trade in the baseball glove I used, and the sock I stuffed down my pants (to protect the boys, of course) for real hockey equipment.
Sadly, that day never did come. As I grew up, I realized that hockey wasn’t to be. I played in some deck hockey leagues, and realized that I was average at best compared to some of the others who apparently lived, breathed, and drank (heavily) hockey. I still enjoy the sport to a great extent … especially when the Flyers are doing well.
And one time, I even got to meet Jim Craig, the goalie of the 1980 gold medal winning Olympic team from USA. He was an idle of mine growing up – and as fate would have it, he was doing some sort of promotional appearances for the Leukemia Society when I was working there. I got to have my picture taken with him, and even got to tell him how much I enjoyed watching him play in those Olympic games. We spoke for about 10 minutes, and he was a great guy – really seemed to be thankful and was humbled that he had such an impact on my life.