Hockey Players are Good Travelers.
Hockey players are good travelers… what? Are you kidding me? Those toothless, uneducated Canadians that play around on frozen lakes and hit each other with sticks whilst chasing around a frozen piece of rubber? Are you sure we’re talking about the same pigeon-holed group of jocks? What in the world could make you think that hockey players are good travelers?
Well I’m glad you asked… here’s an 11 point list.
1) Play through the pain
Hockey is a sport where showing an injury means showing your weakness to an opponent that will quite willingly exploit it and make it worse. Thus, those toothless grunts learn to push through the pain, and not say a word. On the road, you’ll find that hockey players take the same attitude and will never complain about a blister, stubbed toe, separated shoulder or broken foot.
2) Push Yourself & Know Your Limits
If you grew up as a competitive hockey player, you know just how brutal conditioning camps or power skating camps can become. Remember what it feels like to get up in the morning, hardly able to walk and going to 5-10 hours of on ice and off ice drills? Well good, some treks are going to bring you back to those days. Furthermore, you know how much more your body can take… so you don’t need to worry about the little aches and pains.
3) Cold Showers
Every hockey player knows what its like to be the last one in the shower, and end up taking a shower in water that is mere fractions of a degree warmer than the rink they just finished playing on… Trust me, every traveler gets to know this feeling quite well too.
4) Away Games
Basically, you get used to traveling. Long road trips, crappy hotel rooms, bunking beside snorers, exploring new places, getting lost… all these things happen tons while you travel, away games were just your primer
5) Meeting People
Every new tryout, every new team… you were always forced to get to know people immediately, sharing one passion… hockey. Although the passion has changed, and the surroundings differ, you’ll be surprised how comfortable meeting other travelers will feel.
It goes without saying that anybody who grew up playing hockey became quite coordinated and athletic. Both of these attributes are going to help you greatly as you run for trains, jump onto buses and scamper over the walls to your hostel.
Personally, I’m not a big city person, but one of the things I love about the big cities is the challenge of walking through the streets. This totally brings me back to the hockey days, finding the holes, and going for them.
8) Protect the Puck
It became second nature for us to protect the puck with our bodies… now you can use the exact same principles in order to protect your valuables on crowded metros, busy streets an dark alleys.
9) Early Risers
While its not a cardinal rule that hockey players get up early in the morning, you’d be hard pressed to find any hockey player that doesn’t remember getting up at 5 am in the freezing cold just to stumble to the car, and drive to the rink for a practice. This sort of experience is going to come in quite handy for those 3 am alarms for sunrise hikes or early morning trains.
10) Team Players
We learned early that one player doesn’t win the game. You always had to look out for your teammates. This is incredibly handy as you’ll often be traveling with a partner (or two or ten), knowing how to work in a team is crucial.
Large backpacks are awkward. Carrying a backpack on your back and one on your front is even more awkward. Now try jamming yourself through the narrow corridors of a packed train; or try running down the street yelling at a bus to stop. Tell me that this isn’t reminiscent of carrying that huge hockey bag, squeezing through the big doors (especially when we were really young and smaller than the bag itself) and running after a buddy to catch a ride.
Maybe its just my Canadian roots showing. Maybe its the fact that the winter olympics are coming up or the world juniors just ended… but I can’t help seeing all the crossovers in between being a competitive hockey player and being a low budget traveler.