Joining a New Sport as an Adult – My Honest Experience

Hello Team Queen B. It’s your Captain Brid speaking. I was chatting to a friend recently who suggested I write a little piece about my recent hockey addiction and well, here we are.

You see hockey is a sport I have always been drawn to but it never quite sucked me in for a few reasons:

  1. I was a rower. The end. No time for anything else. Eat, sleep, row, repeat (You know what I’m talking about rowers)
  2. I played hockey in secondary school and felt there was no point in pursuing this sport as in my mind to get anywhere you would need to have played since birth.
  3. I played in goal in school mainly to get out of class and to protect my bracetastic teeth (Not the teeeeeeth) and when I went along to Ashton Hockey Club to pursue a secret life between the posts I remembered something…I was a rower. No TIME.

So the fascination never really left me but was dimmed and cast aside. School ended, university happened and all of a sudden I was a grown up. I’m talking job having, living with boyfriend, coffee drinking, dinner party holding and stalking grown up. Soon this responsible grown up started a business and I found myself back in my hometown of Cork. (Yippeeeeee, this place RULES) and at the time I was all ‘Seize the day, try new things etc.’ There was a lot going on in my life. I was building a business, was representing my county as the Cork Rose, made a ton of new friends (as a recession university graduate emigration wasn’t good to my hometown circle) but something was missing. From Childhood to University I always played sport and it was just my happiness. A competitive soul I did enjoy the training to win but I also counted myself lucky to have made the kinda friends you could only wish for. Through the years we faced the commitment, tough training, emotion, painful agony of defeat, jubilant satisfaction of victory followed by total debauchery and all the other magical experiences that sportspeople have the privilege to consider normality.

But again, even though I considered myself a sports person, I was now a grown woman with numerous responsibilities. So, I did what I thought people in my position do – I walk the dog, I go the the gym alone and think about lifting weights whilst running aimlessly on the treadmill, I run and consider a triathlon/half marathon/10km. I forgot about sport as an option for me. I forgot the magic that happens when I am part of a team – the ability to get fit, be healthy and not notice you are sweating because (and this is the secret!) IT IS FUN!!

The missing piece fell into place when hockey happened. I’d heard about Blackrock Hockey Club. A friendly club based at my old school where my wooden stick from the 90’s was totally acceptable and everyone was welcome. Feck it, I went along. I kept the whole goalie thing to myself and gave outfield a lash. Ohhhh the GUILT. While BHC was extremely friendly, there were nevertheless some handy players whom I was RUINING training for. But I didn’t give up because I felt totally welcome to be there, useless and all. I loved my fix every Tuesday and Thursday. As the club grew in my second year a space opened up in one of the teams for a keeper and I took it. And that’s when it began. WHY did standing in a goal, in the depths of winter, looking like the Michelin man with little white balls aka ROCKS flying at me feel so goooooood? It was like the little springer spaniel in my heart was finally released.

So with some extra goalie training arranged by the club for the BHCGK sorority of myself, Aoife (A-Balls), and Nina (Ninja) things just got even more fun as we learned new skills and found ourselves improving. I for one enjoyed being of actual use to a team as opposed to the dire hindrance I once was outfield.

So I am still plugging away in the goal with a team of absolute beauties who as I like to put it, don’t improve my winters, they make winter brilliant. And with that I often lament my failure to get completely hooked on this sport sooner. But then I look at those three reasons why I didn’t get into hockey younger and realise everything happens in it’s own time. But I do have a few thoughts on these points in terms of joining sport as an adult.

I was a rower. And always will be. But being tied firmly to one sport doesn’t mean the end of variety in your sporting life as an adult. If you are interested in a sport, get to a club and talk to someone. Sometimes the highest level athletes that seem so scary are the most helpful and welcoming people. Sportspeople love to share their passion and help others who want to get involved. Where there’s a will there’s a way, start researching, trust me, there’s a club for you out there.

My perception of hockey as a closed door unless you were a five year old Olympian was so wrong. But again this reminded me of a lesson I often forget; most often when life throws obstacles your way, more often than not these obstacles in fact comprise of yourself, insecurity and/or misconceptions. I am so glad I bit the bullet and went down to Blackrock that night with my useless wooden stick. How silly I had been, how wrong I had been and how long did I stand in my own way from getting in to a sport I love so much? And I mean Barry White kinda love.

And yeah, I’m no International Goalie but I’m not completely useless because I’ve been trying really hard to improve. I arrive early to training and I stay late. And actually, our little team won the Munster Division 4 League and Cup this year. Division 3 now beckons. I certainly wasn’t expecting that when I walked into the club in 2012 with that ridiculous wooden stick.

Right I must go. I have deliveries to make and leggings to drop to a lady from a neighbouring Cork hockey club (Cork Harlequins) who, like Blackrock Hockey Club also welcomed me with open arms when I rocked up to their clubhouse with a bag of kit and a determination to make Queen B Athletics a success.

Anyone else out there try a new sport when they thought it was too late? Anyone who’d like to? Remember, you’re never too old, never too young, never too useless and there’s always a sport for you.

Send us your stories. We would LOVE to hear from you.