Staying cool with beer-league ice hockey.
By Hannah Wallace
I like to start my week with a little recreation and a good night’s sleep. That’s why my Sunday nights include big men with sticks, high-speed projectiles and more expletives than a Mamet play.
Two years have passed since I first hopped over the boards at Ellenton Ice & Sports Complex (formerly J.P. Igloo), and I’m now thoroughly addicted to ice hockey: the lung-burning exercise, the reckless disdain for traction, and the fun-loving, beer-guzzling camaraderie of Southwest Florida’s recreational hockey players—the perfect complement to Sarasota’s cultural scene.
Ellenton’s co-ed adult leagues attract teenagers to 60-somethings from Naples to Tampa, some of them subcontractors and firefighters, others business owners, legal aides and elementary school teachers. Many, if not most, are transplanted Northerners—or Canadians. But on the ice, regardless of origin or ability, we’re all hockey players. And as a native Sarasotan, I like to think I hold my own.
After the games, Jello-legged and none-too-groomed, the players hobble to the Ellenton Applebee’s for Bud Light and colorful conversation. My intermediate-level team, the Beerslingers, takes this tradition very seriously. Some nights, thanks to a benevolent teammate, a beer-filled cooler awaits us in the locker room when we get off the ice. On those nights, the best nights, then the 10 men and women of the Beerslingers will linger in our soaking-wet gear, sipping hard-earned longnecks while discussing the merits of cross-checking in the crease.
A night at the opera it ain’t, but beer-league hockey is a prescription-strength stress reliever.
Stiff, achy and bruised, I greet Monday mornings with contented, Zen-like exhaustion. To steal a line from Edward Norton’s character in Fight Club: “After hockey, everything else in your life gets the volume turned down.” My work week begins with a good deal of peace and quiet.
Ellenton Ice & Sports Complex
5309 29th St. E.
Ellenton, FL 34222
(941) 723-3663 (ext. 33 for the hockey office)