Sunday, March 4, 2018
Hail to the Golden Girls! By that I mean, Hail to the 2018 Winter Olympic Gold Medalist! USA, USA,USA! As a former Division I hockey player, and one who played overseas, I hesitate to call it professional as it was really bad, I marvel at how far the Women have ventured in not only four years, but in my personal experience of 52 years.
Not totally giving away my age, I was present at the inception of the Pembroke Pandas hockey program, which in turn would become the Brown University Women's team. The home of several ECAC Championships and several Olympians.
Knowing that not all of you are hockey buffs or even fans for that matter, I wanted to tie a few things in here by letting you know how much of a role hockey played in my life and the lives of the Co-eds I fell in love with back in 1966.
Slight right turn here, so stay with me... My Dad ran three retail stores (Ashby Dean’s LTD.) on Thayer St. in East Providence, RI. He was gladly an initial sponsor, being one who greatly appreciated the fairer sex. Now, in 1966 they had a way to go but many played with brothers and friends, on ponds, and the vast majority had figure skating backgrounds. I vividly remember the hand-me-down equipment and beat up sticks the Panda’s started with. But the fire was there, they were Pioneers by God! Dad's store was three blocks from the rink so I lived at Meehan Auditorium, watched the men and women practice daily and had the fortune of several of the women babysit on occasion. "You kidding? She knows who Bobby Orr is, shoots pucks, and smells great? What's not to Love?"
The game was very different at that point not at all what we witnessed several weeks ago in a phenomenal showcase of talent, heart, and dedication. The skating, stick work and strategic aspect of the game was absolutely first rate. A true pleasure to watch!
Much like these young Athletes, and the thousands more. Hockey was my life. "Why?" you ask? At the tender age of six it was my source of validation, confidence, and hope. Man, my team was awesome… Winners of several State/ New England Championships, numerous tournament wins, and yours truly was one of the lead dogs. Many team mates also went on to Collegiate and Professional careers. Like most great power houses we all came together at the tender age of around six.
That athletic validation was critical. My budding dyslexia was showing up even at that point. I couldn't tell my Left from my Right so as a Right Winger, I had to wait for everyone to line up so I could figure out where to go. In the classroom I was being pulled aside with a few others who were struggling with basic skills. God forbid anyone should ask me the months of the year. Hockey was my savior.
These two worlds collided when I had to read a small speech at our New England Championship Banquet. 45 years later, I can still remember standing in front of everyone staring at the words. Extremely painful. But now? I’ll speak in front of any crowd, You name it!
So what in tarnation does this have to do with the 2018 Women's Ice Hockey Gold Medalist?? Well, in both our cases I’ll apply the 1968 tobacco slogan targeting Women…
“You’ve Come a Long Way Baby”!
A Heart Felt Congratulations to all the Players, Staff, and Families of the Reigning Women’s Ice Hockey Olympic Gold Medalists!