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Going to the rink

The following is a descriptive essay 12U hockey player Finn Larson of Minneapolis wrote for her 7th grade communications class.

By Finn Larson

When I drive up to the outdoor ice rink I see and hear various things. I see kids learning to skate on the outer ice nearly unable to move packed in their warm snow pants, heavy jackets and warm hats, and I would see a pick-up hockey game with older kids and a few adults being held on the inner ice. I love the sounds of an outdoor hockey rink – all you can hear is kids yelling for the puck, the sharp sound of skates shuffling across the ice, sticks tapping the ice yearning for a pass, kids laughing with their friends, and young ones crying after they fell down. This feels like home.

When I go into the warming house to put on my skates, I see people everywhere resting on the benches, getting water at the drinking fountain, putting on their skates and waiting for their friends to get ready to go outside. When I sit down, the terrible stench of sweat and hard work fills my nose. This is a familiar smell – this is the smell of hockey. I slide my boots off and hide anything important so it wouldn’t be stolen, tucking the boots under the bench. Then I stuffed my feet in my skates and start to lace them hard and tight with cold fingers. When I am done lacing up, I wait for my friends to get ready. When they finish, we put on our warm, chunky hockey gloves, and grab our hockey sticks and make our way out the door towards the ice.

We walk down the homemade wooden ramp put in place just in the winter – an easy path for ice skaters to get to the ice. We support each other’s weight until we finally get the edge of the ice. Then with a slight push of a skate we glide across the bumpy ice toward the boarded rink where the real action is. When we get there we have to wait for the next game so we could join. To start the new game everyone would throw their sticks into the middle of the ice and one person then reaches down into the stick pile with their eyes closed and separates the sticks into two piles to form the teams. 

Leaving, of course, is the worst part of all. Although it’s not the best ice, it is where I learned to skate, where I go to play with my friends in the winter, and where a small piece of my heart will always be. Playing pick-up hockey at an outdoor ice rink means playing with strangers, but by the time you leave they’re not strangers anymore, but they’re old teammates and new friends.