I am up early mostly because Miss I kicked her covers off and for some reason that becomes MY problem! I am up early secondly because we have practice at 6 and I couldn't get back to sleep.
Practice. What does it entail? Well, first of all, on Friday it means getting up early. Once I get out of the house and down to the rink then I have to get suited up. What does that mean? Pretty much covering every joint with some kind of pad - putting on my "fat suit", if you will.
It all starts with the shorts. There are these great spandex shorts called breezers that go on first (yes, the order makes a difference). The have two 2"x2" squares of Velcro on each leg (one on front, one on back) that our socks attach to.
After the breezers you can either start in on the shin guards or go for the socks, I have become partial to guards first, the socks are a little easier to pull up then. The socks are really more like way over sized leg warmers, they go over the shin guards. The shin guards actually protect your shin and knee, they Velcro around your calf so you still have pretty good mobility, but you aren't going to bust a kneecap or get a bruise on your shin from a puck, skate or stick.
So you strap on your shin guards, pull up your socks, Velcro them to your thighs and then take a breather. It's a lot of work adding all that. Next I usually put on my skates. Hockey skates are the bomb! They are hard plastic all the way around. No flimsy leather like the ones you rent when you go ice skating. Oh no, these ones have to protect your feet from sticks and pucks and others' skates too. They take some muscle to get on. The locker rooms are usually a tad cool, so by now your hands are a tad cold and you re trying to get your feet into these hard plastic molds, then pull the laces tight. Last week I had cuts on my thumb and index fingers, lacing my skates was horrible!
OOPS! (and this has happened) I should have put on my pants first! This is where keeping an eye on what others are doing has paid off. We wear these huge-ass shorts full of padding. Ladies, if you are worried about how large your ass looks, hockey isn't for you! These shorts add about 18 sizes to an already sensitive to criticism back side, but the padding is worth it. The shorts have pads on the front, back and sides. I have sustained some sore spots from falling, but no major bruises thanks to these shorts. They are worth it! So these should go on before the skates or else you might tear them.
Now the fun begins. I have the most trouble with the upper body pads. First there is a chest and shoulder protector. I think the problem might be its a size too big. It Velcros around your chest and the shoulder pads are held in place by the jersey. Getting the jersey on has to be the biggest challenge. It seems to get caught in the back where you cant see or reach to make it right. Again the locker room becomes a source of help!
Once your chest and shoulder pads are on and the jersey is in place you are nearly done. I learned a couple practices ago to put on my elbow pads after the jersey otherwise you're just fooling around with the Velcro all night. The elbow pads Velcro above and below the elbow and boy are they a necessary evil!
After that you are nearly ready to hit the ice. Gloves and helmet are all that is missing. Gloves are the very last thing to get put on, usually left then right, the right hand carries the water bottle to the team box, the left holds the stick ALL. THE. TIME.
And the helmet. First things first with the helmet. If you sweat, you want to wear a bandanna to keep it from dripping in your eyes, it also helps hold your hair back. I've played a couple times without and it sucked! I have never wore something so tight fitting on my head! This thing isn't going anywhere, not that I would want it to, but its quite the brain container. Hard, black plastic with a face shield (mine resembles a grate) and a chin strap. There is padding inside, but its hard too. I really need to invest in my own helmet, the one I am borrowing starts to hurt my head about 30 minutes into practice.
Pretty much getting the gear on is a warm up. It takes about 15 minutes. But its worth it! Another time I will tell you about the ice, how it isn't soft, or smooth!