Do the Hockey Pokey

by Bob Smiley as told to Bob Smiley

I signed up for a hockey team. To be honest, I read the sheet wrong at first. I thought I was signing up for a “Hokey Team.” I couldn’t wait to show my new teammates how good I was at putting my right leg in and shaking it all about! However, it turned out to be hockey, not hokey.

Oh well, I bet I’ll look tough without my front teeth.

My first question was how an ice rink could survive in Texas. Winter temperatures can get as low as 50 degrees but rarely down to the freezing point, which is 44 degrees if I remember my science test correctly. But it’s June! It’s 103—and that’s inside our refrigerator.

I soon found out that the hockey games were played in a roller skating rink, not on ice. So I showed up at the first practice with my Rollerblades and a helmet. I looked a little different than the other kids, mostly because I had a football helmet. I also hadn’t bought a hockey stick, so I was using my mom’s broom. This turned out to be a great advantage because no one could see the puck under all that straw. My coach eventually made me use a regular stick, even though the puck looked much cleaner.

The first practice taught me why hockey players wear pads and a helmet. All that crashing and slamming around really bruised me up. And I wasn’t even playing yet! I was just trying to stand on my skates. The Rollerblades kept rolling out from under me, causing my arms to fly all around. I looked like I was fighting off an imaginary bee. Like I said, I’ve always been good at shaking it all about.

When we started doing drills, I had trouble getting the puck to keep up with me. At first I tried picking it up and keeping it in my pocket. This backfired because Clay kept scoring a goal by pushing me into the net. Eventually, I put some Chap Stick on the puck. It moved a lot faster after that. Plus, I thought the Chap Stick would help if someone got hit in the mouth with the puck. 

My biggest discovery was that you sweat a lot when you play hockey. Thirty seconds after my dad picked me up from practice, he rolled down all four windows and shouted, “Whoa! Did you use a dead squirrel for a puck?”

At first, I was confused because I’d just showered in the locker room. But the locker room has a distinct smell I like to call “rotting fish on hot pavement,” though my mom refers to it as “sweaty boy.” No matter what you call it, you end up smelling like it if you spend more than 20 seconds in the locker room.

Anyway, turns out hockey is a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to the season. I’m making new friends and getting lots of exercise. Now if you will excuse me, our first game is next week, so I have to go stock up on Chap Stick. 

This article originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Focus on the Family Clubhouse magazine. Copyright © 2011 by Bob Smiley. Used by permission. Illustration © Gary Locke.