Hockey

Taking a month off, then launching myself into some kind of sporting frenzy as I did last week, may have been a mistake. I’m writing this from my bed, a broken woman after an eight mile run, and practically comatose from the Domino’s pizza I was subsequently able to justify eating. Last week I ran on Sunday, took a trampoline class on Monday, played hockey on Tuesday and ran again on Wednesday. Essentially, I’m living a celibate version of a terrible Craig David song.

Next week looks likely to take a similar pattern as I shall be interspersing running with a number of sports, including handball.In an exciting turn of events, that nice chap from Team GB and my New Favourite Olympian, Sebastian Prieto, is going to take me to play handball. No biggie. Still, there have been some exciting developments in the last week and Seb is now facing some pretty stiff competition in terms of New Favourite Olympians.

As some of you will recall, when NFO Seb adopted the cause of Inspire a Jen, he kindly pestered some of his Team GB pals to follow my Twitter feed/tolerate my largely irrelevant interjections. One of these new followers was a member of GB’s Bronze medal winning hockey team at the London 2012 Olympics, Chloe Rogers. Within around 20 minutes of Chloe following me, a million hockey clubs had invited me to train with them, one of which was Romford Hockey Club. I liked the cut of Romford’s jib, and as an Essex Girl, I thought it’d be nice to return to the Motherland for at least one of my sports. So, after an exchange with Romford HC’s tweeter, Lee, the deal was done.

*loses shit*

*loses shit*

Hockey isn’t a sport I’ve been particularly looking forward to. Like pretty much everyone in England I’d played hockey, and approximately two other sports, at school. In my first year at secondary school, I was taught PE by an ACTUAL OLYMPIAN – Julie Cook, who was the goalkeeper for GB’s Seoul 1988 hockey team. I liked Miss Cook, she had a good sense of humour, which I imagine is necessary in the profession of teaching sport to teenage girls.

But the dream was short-lived and in my second year, I was dropped into the bottom set for PE –a tough lesson in life for someone who was in the top set for everything else. In addition to this grade-based slur, my new class was taught by a woman who, I suspect,had a borderline personality disorder. Following this dramatic turn of events, coupled with the horrendous self-consciousness that afflicts most teenagers, Sport and I parted company for the next 12 years.

Yup, pretty serious about hockey

Yup, pretty serious about hockey

Naturally, it was pissing it down last Tuesday so, as I left the house I hastily grabbed my festival pack-a-mac from the kitchen table, where it’d been discarded for about 6 months or so. My inner teenager (with whom I’d become reacquainted over the Christmas break, by re-watching the My So Called Life box set, whilst monging out on the sofa in a prescription-strength painkiller haze, pondering how fashion forward that carpet coat had really been) expected this dismal weather, such were her memories of hockey, at school.

When I arrived at the Robert Clack Leisure Centre on Tuesday evening, I was wittering on about this silly project, when Lee broke the news to me that ACTUAL OLYMPIC MEDALIST, Chloe Rogers, would be joining us for the training session. Obviously, I then proceeded quietly to lose my shit. Firstly because I was going to be training with an ACTUAL OLYMPIC MEDALIST, secondly because I couldn’t believe how amazing it was that Romford had secretly organised this and thirdly, because my pack-a-mac absolutely reeked of fried food. I silently cursed my flatmate’s long-established relationship with breaded chicken. I was meeting an Olympian, stinking of fried food.

My other NFO, Chloe Rogers

My other NFO, Chloe Rogers

Chloe arrived, and I tried to style out both the aroma of my pack-a-mac and my absolute, wide-eyed, pure and childlike delight that she’d brought her Olympic medal with her. She happily passed the medal around, “you can wear it if you want”, she generously offered.

On with the training. My inner teenager’s memory of hockey was that it is a) unpleasant but b) pretty easy. Turns out, I was wrong on both counts. To start off with, there was some “simple” passing and I quickly paired myself up with unwitting member, Grace. Grace passed the ball to me, and feeling quietly confident, I swung my hockey stick out to stop it, but to my surprise,the ball just kept going. “Yeah, you need to use the stick the other way round”, i.e. the way round that doesn’t leave a massive gap betwixt stick and floor,Grace told me as I realised the first of my many mistakes, that evening.

Chloe, teaching me some skills, innit

Chloe, teaching me some skills, innit

We then practiced defensive moves, weaving around some cones. As I waited my turn, I chatted to some of the women’s team members, who were interested in my project. The club has a really nice vibe about it, with members of all ages and abilities (ok, none of them were as rubbish as me). Some members had gotten back into hockey after lengthy breaks from the sport. One of the women told me a very inspiring story about how she’d had a pretty major health scare, then having thankfully recovered, decided to join the club with her teenage daughter to get fit.

Good luck to me

Good luck to me

After this we tried a bit of shooting practice and Chloe patiently tried to explain to me where I was going wrong with each successive failure of the stick to connect with the ball, though I think the blame lay somewhere with my inability to co-ordinate the complex trinity of body, stick and ball control.

Finally, we moved on to a short game. “Look,” I told team-mate Gemma, “I’ve got a hypothetical medal table on my blog, and I really need some more golds, ‘cause it’s kind of embarrassing – there’s a lot riding on this match”. Gemma offers me some sage advice: stop wanging on about being rubbish and just get involved, which is kind of the point of all this, after all.

Team Awesome: We may or may not have won

Team Awesome: We may or may not have won

With the typically gung-ho attitude of someone with enthusiasm but absolutely no talent (this is how my brother breaks a different bone every year, during his annual foray into the dark arts of five-aside football), I aggressively rushed into the game, promptly causing a midfield pile up. “Sorry,” I apologise to the girls, “I think this might have been an illegal move”. I continue to add no real value to the game, and I think we may actually have lost, despite scoring the first goal. I do however, make one interception that was half decent, I even hear someone say this, and I’ll take that one, half decent interception.

At some point in the evening, Chloe asks me if I like hockey and when I last played. “To be honest,” I confess to Chloe and Coach, Dave, “my memories of hockey are mostly of being 14 and miserable, standing in the rain wearing stupid clothes that made me feel fat and awkward”. But to the immeasurable surprise of me and my inner teenager, I thoroughly enjoyed the training session, though I suppose I did have some pretty good coaches and a pretty awesome team.

I think the shirt suits me

I think the shirt suits me

As the session draws to a close, we congregate to thank Chloe for her time and Chairperson, Sheryl, presents me with a Romford HC shirt to thank me for joining them. I literally cannot believe that they are thanking me, given what they’ve organised and I’m genuinely touched. Massive, massive thanks to Chloe for generously giving up her time and to Romford Hockey Club. You are my new favourite team and I salute you and Chloe, jointly, with a hypothetical gold medal, because you deserve it more than me.

There's an alarming amount of love in this photot

There’s a lot of love in this photo

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Total

Jen

6

7

1

14

Jade

2

1

3

Gemma

2

2

Nick

2

2

Chloe Rogers

1

1

John

1

1

Naomi

1

1

Otter Water Polo

1

1

Romford HC

1

1

Steve

1

1

Simon

2

2

Uncle Becky

2

2

Ali

1

1

James

1

1

My Mum

1

1

Nic

1

1

Pete

1

1

Harriet

1

1

OMG, We're, like, totally famous

OMG, We’re, like, totally famous

By the way, Romford HC has a much better selection of photos of the evening, and I’m a bit stupid about technology, so please do check out their gallery, should you feel so inclined.

 

© Inspire a Jen, 2013.

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