When I first started playing hockey, I was 6 years old. I played for Beloit Youth Hockey Association (BYHA). Our rink was an outdoor rink, so it was freezing cold outside and inside. The players weren’t very skilled, and they didn’t play to be the best. We kept score by how many penalties we received. Our season started in the middle of October, and most other hockey teams started in September. We traveled hours to play other teams, and we lost almost every game. It was fun, exciting, and I loved it. When I joined the high school team, I lost my love for hockey. I didn’t lose it because of the game though. I lost it because of the team. I wasn’t open in high school, and I had a homophobic parent. I was on a team of bullies. I remember they called me “squeaks.” I hated that name. I learned to hate every one of the players on the team. I remember being the most afraid in my life when I was a player for the Beloit Knights. The initiation for a freshman hockey player was terrifying to me. They would take you to the back of the bus after an away game, duck tape your eyes, and make you run through what they called “the gauntlet.” They would hit you with sticks, pucks, fists, and anything else they could imagine. I was so scared they would make me go through that, but I was fortunate enough to have parents come to every game and drive me home. They already pegged me as being gay, and if they would have had the chance to take me to the back of the bus, I don’t know if I’d be the person I am today.
The MGHA was the first hockey league I have joined since then. I was welcomed into a community of smiling faces, hugs, and fun times. I am able to smile every time I hit the ice. The MGHA gave me the opportunity to try and be the best hockey player I can. I have met great people, and I hope I have influenced others to be better hockey players as well.
Gay hockey is what hockey should be in general. It should be a thrilling, exciting experience. It should make you make you proud of yourself every time you play the game, win or lose. It should you should drive you to the fullest of your abilities, and you should be completely exhausted after every game. You shouldn’t be exhausted because you are tired, burnt, or just out of energy. You should be exhausted because you gave it your all. You should be able to hear that final buzzer, and smile to yourself knowing you just played the greatest game on earth.