Letter from a Board Member

Letter from a Board Member: Running and My Brief Stint as an Ice Hockey Player

By: Helene Sisti

Running clubs, and more generally sports clubs, have been a joy for me at different times in my life and in different places. 

At one of my college reunions, I remember a conversation with a classmate. After talking about how I was on the Track and Field team, they had expressed a bit of regret for not pursuing more extracurricular activities. The term, ‘extra curricular activities’ struck a note with me. Never did I think of the track team as something I would decide to join. It wasn’t something I took casually, as if I needed something to do after classes. Running, training and competing was something I was compelled to do. Even my parents knew this. At one point in college, I thought maybe I should just focus completely on my school work. They instantly replied with surprise, “You enjoy it. Why would you do something like that?” They didn’t entertain the idea for a second. At the time, they knew me better than I knew myself. I knew they were right. I dismissed the thought as quickly as they did and never looked back. I loved training with the team. Even if I did not reach my goal of becoming an All-American, I still did well and look back on those times with gratitude.

There were different times in my life when routine would take hold, and I would find myself searching for something to brighten up my energy. Time after time, it was an athletic club that did just this. Running clubs have definitely been the mainstay. Having lived in the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan area for many years, I ran with the Central Park Track Club, Haddonfield Running Club, and Fishtown Beer Runners Club! All of them were always welcoming. Whether training on the legendary indoor track of the Armory, beautiful rolling hills of suburban Haddonfield, or the urban streets of Philadelphia where we ended at a bar, it was always a joy to meet up with other runners and burn off some excess energy. There is a feeling of camaraderie as we warm up, talk about the workout, then head off as a herd to get our hearts pumping. 

Other sports too have provided just what I needed when I needed it – a healthy burst of energy. One of them was ice hockey. For three glorious months I was an ice hockey player. I went to “Play It Again, Sports,” bought myself some hockey gear, and enrolled myself in an adult developmental clinic at the Red Bank Armory. I never watched NHL games. My cousin played for Penn State and I always thought the sport looked really fun. When I put on all my gear for the first practice, I actually had the hockey socks on the inside of the protective gear. The coach was so kind. He didn’t flinch. He didn’t make me feel the slightest bit uncomfortable. He pointed to my shins as he was walking by and casually remarked, “Those socks go on the outside.” I replied, “Oh,” with a sheepish grin and went back into the locker room to put them on the correct way. I had the locker room to myself, since I was the only girl. I thought I was signing up for a co-ed group, because that was what  the person on the phone had told me. As it turned out, no other girls had signed up. More precisely, the one girl that had signed up stopped attending. There was another person who started the same day as me. We both finally had on all of our gear (properly) and walked out onto the ice. The coach had us do a few skating drills to make sure we could move on the ice. After skating a bit, he then said, “OK - Now, run and take a dive.” I am like, “Just – take a dive?”  “Yes.” I ran with a few bounding steps, then through my hands out as if I was sliding into home plate. Once I started sliding belly down on the ice I just started laughing out loud at the sensation. I was going to love this.

All the players were very supportive. I even scored a goal during one of the scrimmages. I enjoyed the 8-week clinic so much, that I immediately signed up for a second one. The second one had more than twice the enrollment, and was a little more intimidating. Slapshots were all over the place, and the skill level was much higher than the first round. My ice hockey career came to an abrupt end. I eventually exchanged my hockey gear for a tennis racket, but still held on to the skates. Though it was only about 3 months all together, it still made for a great winter when I really needed one. 

As with most things, it was the people who helped make those memories. I think that is what is so nice about running clubs – the quiet encouragement of just showing up again and again. The consistent effort to stay healthy, stay positive, train when the weather turns, and get yourself out there when it is sometimes easier to stay inside.

Our Sponsors

Want to sponsor us? We can help you promote your company while you help us race.

Sponsor Us

UVRC, c/o Lebanon Recreation & Parks

51 North Park St

Lebanon NH 03766