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She may be a doctor, but she ain’t too bright: Part 1, Love of Hockey

November 27, 2011

Hockey is a passion of mine. I feel I should explain the extent of it before I tell you the folly I’ve got myself into because of it.

I learned to skate on the back pond at age 2, and joined the little boys (and me and sometimes one other girl) hockey league at 4 1/2 years old. I’ve played with men and women of all ages, in leagues and during pick-up ice, regular and 4 on 4 leagues, and even down to 3 on 3 sudden death overtime at a tournament in Nipigon, Ontario.

Growing up, my family spent a lot of the time out on the pond or at the community rink. Birthday parties were always skating parties, at my request. I love my skates but I’ve also played on rollerblades and in running shoes, in tournaments across Northwestern Ontario, in Winnipeg, on Vancouver Island and with 26+ teams of British Columbian doctors (and just 5 female players in the mix) in Vernon, BC, twice – so far. It seems odd that hockey is so prominent in the lives of Canadian doctors, but it was a great way to stay sane in medical school. It is also an easy topic for conversation, making it possible to relate to people I might have a hard time chatting with otherwise, like some of my rough-and-tumble male patients or (predominantly male) surgical colleagues.

I found myself incredibly happy skating the Rideau Canal after a medical residency (CaRMS) interview in Ottawa, just as equally at home as when I’d sit alone in the stands watching my brother’s hockey team practice My dad was on the ice or behind the bench as assistant coach for my brothers team, and I think he always wondered how I could possibly remained entertained by watching a bunch of Peewee boys practice. When I’m on the ice, there isn’t anything else. Just being near an ice surface, smelling that strange arena smell and hearing the blades cut across the ice, clears my mind.

One year, when I was 10 or 12, my parents asked me to pay my own way for hockey. They had always paid my registration fee and bought the equipment I needed, or handed me my big brother’s leftovers. They stood by as I hocked chocolates outside the grocery store as part of a team fundraiser, drove me to each game and cheered us on, and waited patiently while my brother and I lingered in the hockey section of Canadian Tire. I think they wanted to make sure I wasn’t just playing hockey for the sake of it, or maybe they wanted to be sure they weren’t pushing me into it. Of course I paid!

I took a year off once, in high school, as I was starting an intense academic program, and I regretted it. Since then, I’ve appreciated hockey as a fixture in my life.

So now, I’m playing hockey in the Arctic. Or, trying to. [See Part 2 for what I got myself into.]

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