The local semi-pro, high school hockey team had been leading the playoff series 2-0, but had lost in double overtime on Friday and then pulled out a win on Saturday.
When I walked in, the team's owner saw me and told me to wait right where I was and he'd be back. He came back in with a jersey, signed by the entire hockey team.
The jersey was a donation for the community day I've been planning as a fundraiser for the rink. The owner had mentioned to me Friday night that he was going to get that for me, but it was still a happy surprise when he had it all ready to go the very next night.
As I walked around the rink to meet another friend of ours, with a signed jersey in hand, a forgotten feeling came back to me. People were watching/staring with that "Who is she and how did she get a signed jersey?" look on their faces.
In college I interned with a minor league team and hadn't forgotten some of those moments until I was walking around the rink in Great Falls, Montana with a jersey signed by the players.
Growing up a figure skater, I didn't like hockey. They were like the sworn enemies of figure skating. They wore bulky, smelly pads, they got in fights on the ice, they threw things, hit things, yelled a lot and mutilated our ice.
Fast forward to high school and hockey players were my friends. I worked with them, sometimes needed them to help me fix things at the rink and went to school with them. Plus, I was obsessed with the Mighty Ducks movie and totally in love with Banks, so hockey players were less the enemy after that.
They still tear up our ice, but the hockey players will forever whine about how figure skaters put huge holes in their ice. It's true, it happens when we jump. We do have those pesky toe picks.
But working for a hockey team in college showed me more of how a sports team operates. About how the game can actually impact people's lives. The score usually won't matter in real life, but you watch sportsmanship, leadership, team work and the best of those guys would make time to chat and visit with the kids and some of the fans.
Working with that team was less about the hockey for me, though I do love the sport, than it was about impacting the community through the team. There were fan days, skating camps, autographs and so on, but I got to be the person to make it happen some days.
There may forever be the fight over who does more damage to the ice, but all skaters share a love for the ice and understand more of what it takes to succeed in either sport. There's a rivalry for sure, but there's also mutual respect.
My big rink event, which has turned into community day at the rink, is bringing together groups that might not have come together otherwise. It's also turning into something that rink folks are getting excited about and that might be my favorite part. I'm a little nervous since there's only a few days to go and so much to do, but the fact that it's happening at all is a success in my book.
The event is bringing the ice users together in a way I haven't seen in the time I've been here. We'll all still compete for ice time, but we have a common goal in keeping the rink open so we have ice to use.
It's certainly fun to be the girl walking around the rink with a signed jersey. But for me, I'm just so proud to be a part of a larger community. I may not be able to do a double axel, but I can use all of my skills to help make sure there's ice for the little girl that might learn to do that right here in our town.