The Perfect StormImage by: Andy DibleyI was a relatively late comer to the world of hockey compared to my friends growing up in my hometown. It was down to a family friend who played for the local juniors’ team that I got hooked, hooked to the extent that after about a year or two of playing I decided to get my level 1 coaching qualification and started to coach the juniors’ club. Coaching was great fun and I was getting the chance to work with some of the top coaches in the system, even some EPL players that coached would come out to the training. Learning drills, looking through systems and using the internet gave me a greater understanding and of course helping me on a personal level every time I trained. I was travelling with the juniors’ club to away games as well as being there at the home games and even though I wasn’t great I was still able to advise and coach the team on positioning and game play for which in return I would be given tips like how to shoot better by the team and coaches.
When it came to the recreational team I played for, despite all the effort I was putting into my training I wanted to get more out of it. There was a very serious atmosphere that led to others shouting if players happened to mess up a pass or if they weren’t in the right place at the right time – it was frustrating to say the least but I was determined to keep at it as I loved the sport!
A lady who I had met through the coaching course told me about an adult’s Learn to Play Hockey session that was starting up at Planet Ice in Milton Keynes. My eyes lit up upon hearing this as this seemed an ideal way to get better and improve my skills without being made to feel useless on the ice. It was by no means a local destination, taking me just over an hour to get there, but the atmosphere was incredibly welcoming and friendly which easily made the journey worth it. Being already familiar with the drills I settled in quickly but the coaches picked up on this and advised me to keep pushing myself harder as this would lead to me improving and growing as a player. I took the advice and did just that, determined to work hard every session and raise a good sweat.
My determination paid off quickly for it wasn’t long before my manager approached the team and said certain players – such as myself – would be asked if they wanted to train on a different night, with the goal being to start playing games and setting up a proper team.
I thought to myself, “This is exactly what I’m after!”; a team made up of people willing to learn, continuing to improve and build upon their existing skills while still helping others, and with everyone already getting along so well with each other.
The sessions were more intense and with a greater variety of drills but they were still highly enjoyable. Some players dropped out but we had new players quickly join up to replace them as well as some ex-junior players sign up and it wasn’t long before we had a Facebook group set up to coordinate matches, team night outs and even an awards ceremony. This was indeed exactly what I had been looking for. The manager asked if anyone would be willing to take up the role of ‘game coordinator’ for this new team “Storm Wreck”, a position that would involve being responsible for securing and organising both home and away matches with other recreational teams around England. I stepped up and took on the role and still love it to this day.
Our first match was on the 16th of December 2011 against the Streatham Night Wolves at their rink. We lost 10-2 but going by the energy in the team at the end of the match, you could be forgiven for thinking we had won; in the changing room afterwards we were still all on a high, everyone happy with how we had played our first match outside of training. We cracked open the Man of the Match’s beers and shared them out amidst compliments and congratulations to each other. To me this was what a hockey team should be all about!
Last week I suffered an injury where I twisted and broke my ankle by about 90 degrees in the wrong direction. Within moments I had team mates around me asking if I was ok, one of the coaches had called an ambulance and I had players helping me off the rink and into the changing room with some even staying until the ambulance crew had picked me up just to make sure I was safe and sound. The floods of messages and Facebook comments I received made me feel so loved it was unreal; Storm Wreck had become more than just a team, it had become a family and I had after 5 years of hockey found my perfect team.By Harleigh Jones