Athletics / Community

Dana Hall Varsity Ice Hockey, Or: What are You Doing at 5 A. M. ?

5 A.M. Mondays, Tuesdays, and (a later start on) Thursdays. My phone alarm starts ringing in my ear. 5 minutes, I think. I need to brush my teeth, put on my shoes and leave my house. I frantically run, grabbing everything I may need for my day, and get into the car. I’m wearing my hat, gloves, pajamas and warm boots. I get to Dana at 5:15. The Dana Hall Varsity Ice Hockey coaches, John and TJ, are there waiting for their team with wide grins and greet us at the front door near campus security. The bus already parked in front. I grab my huge red and white bag and stick and throw them in the back of the bus. Some of the players sit on the bus with tired eyes listening to music, scrolling through social media or whispering to each other. By 5:20 we leave the Shipley Center and pick up some of the players at Grey Lodge on our way to practice.

By 5:40 we arrive at the St. Sebastian’s Ice Rink and meet our teammates who drove there. I hear the voices of my teammates sleepily muttering from outside of the bus as we begin to unload our heavy bags onto the ground and stumble our way into the cold rink.  My eyes are finally adjusting to the light. We all sit in a large locker room, our hockey bags in front of us lining the benches where we sit. The volume of the locker room increases as each minute goes by and each girl grows more aware and awake. Then it’s time to get dressed.

Getting dressed to play hockey has a lot of steps.  First the underneath clothing. Socks, spandex, shorts. Then the pads and guards, shin guards, chest guards, leg guards, arm guards. Then the skates, helmet and jersey. Finally at 6:00, we are awake and ready to take the ice.

Ice Hockey files into the cold rink long before you are out of bed.

All of the Ice Hockey girls, about 20 of us, skate onto the ice and go for a lap, skating leisurely to warm up. Some of the girls soar across the ice as though it is like walking or running, others like me like to take the time to practice stopping and remember how to push off on each foot. The Captains, Sofia Esposito, Nadia Cai and Lauren Merullo, hit their sticks loudly on the ice twice to call their team to come together to center ice to stretch. They count the odd numbers while the team yells out the evens for each stretch. After that, a variety of drills, warm ups, scrimmages and games. Lots of stops, turns, sprints, slaps of the puck and chatter among the team.

Girls of many grade levels from Dana come together to form this team. In our uniforms it is as though our identities and figures go away, and all that is left are giant blobs of different colors skating, sometimes falling, but always trying our best. By the end of practice, we all skate off the ice happy, energized and ready to take on the day.

After we come off the ice, practice doesn’t truly end. We race back to the locker room to strip off the massive amounts of gear and return to our pajamas. Somehow I am always the first to start getting dressed and the last to get undressed in the locker room. Some of the players board onto two busses and go back to campus. When we get back to Dana, we return our gear to its comfortable position on the shelves by campus security.

By 7:50A.M I blend right in with the other Dana girls who have just woken up and are ready to face their day. At 8:00am I am sitting in morning meeting, smiling to myself because I know that it will be a great day, and that the next morning I can look forward to spending time with my hockey friends in the locker room, laughing about how tired we are and how rewarding our time spent playing hockey together is.