hockey tips

Don’t even look at me when I’m thinking about Lardo speaking Vietnamese, reading Vietnamese, picking up phone calls in Vietnamese, especially in a crowded room, especially in the middle of a big group circle and she knows she can’t ignore her mom’s phone call even if her phone is actually on silent. 

Larissa has been told in the past that she speaks “good Vietnamese”, the refined kind, the kind that is a mix of old North and old South, the type that epic Viet dramas and the well-dressed hosts of variety shows that her mom watches on YouTube, that they own on DVD and VHS. (They are a Paris By Night family, but they appreciate some Asia shows). (But, they are a Paahree Bai Nai family). It’s “high-class Viet”, not “bán cá dialect”, fish-monger’s speak, which is totally her dad’s accent. It’s not distinctively nasal, like a lot of people she hears at the store. She can make it sound that way, but she loves her accent, how it’s a mix of her family’s accents. She loves her grandmother’s accent, loves her mom’s and dad’s and her multitudes of  and and bác and and ông bà!! 

Lardo gets asked to say things in Vietnamese all the time, gets put on the spot, gets asked to say names in Vietnamese? Like, what’s up with that? Just listen to her talk on the phone, Jesus Lord. She mispronounces her own name, but whatever, it’s spelled the Chinese way–a lot of things are–names and records were switched for security during the war. Her real last name is probably Nguyen. Everyone’s is Nguyen. But, she likes being Duan. It’s her mom’s last name, and it’s hers too. Every time she says it like how her Kindergarten teacher pronounces it, there’s a part of her that thinks she’s erasing her culture, that panics, that wants it to change, wants her to pronounce it right, because ???? Isn’t that just a Little First Gen American Thing??

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Falling on the ice.

Every ice skater across the globe will eventually fall on the ice- it’s common, natural and (unfortunately) an unavoidable part of being an ice skater.

So much so, that generally the first thing that is taught in ice-skating lessons is how to fall ‘correctly’ to avoid as much injury as possible.

But how do you fall ‘correctly’?

This is a list for beginning skaters to help them understand the best way(s) to fall while on the ice.

WARNING: IT IS STRONGLY ADVISED TO WEAR KNEE/ELBOW & WRIST GUARDS! ESPECIALLY WHILE LEARNING!!!! YOU ARE VERY LIKELY TO BREAK A BONE OR WORSE IF YOU DON’T!

  • First things first, make sure you know how to lace your skates properly, wear proper clothing/gear & know how to step on the ice safely. If you’re taking lessons they’ll teach you this, if not there’s plenty of online sources that can help.

  • Next is to practice the ‘I’M ABOUT TO FALL OMFG’ position- generally this is called the ‘safe’ position and it looks like this:

You’re looking forwards, NOT AT YOUR FEET, your hands are spread out in front of you and your knees are bent over your toes- bringing you lower to the ice.

This is the ‘safe’ position to assume when you feel like you’re about to fall- the reason?

Looking forward - you won’t be top-heavy and you can keep an eye on the other ice skaters around you. If you look at your feet you’re far more likely to topple over.

Hands spread - Having your hands spread at about a 8 o’clock and 4 o’clock position improves balance and allows you to use your hands to cushion your fall. (It’s advised to wear gloves and wrist guards)

Knees bent - You’ll achieve better balance & you’ll be closer to the ice meaning less distance for impact. Also, this greatly reduces your chances of falling backwards– which is possibly the worst way to fall. In fact just assuming this position may keep you from falling when you’re about to.

Which brings me to my next point…

  • DON’T FALL BACKWARDS.
    Sometimes it’s unavoidable but if you can help it at all- fall forwards.
    Yes, you have a lot of padding on your butt, however there is a far larger risk in falling backwards than forwards.

    Lessons usually teach little kids to fall on their butt- but that’s because they’re very close to the ice and they’re soft/rubbery at that age. (Also they usually wear helmets.)

    As an adult, falling backwards can cause you to break your arms/wrist/shoulders and also your tail bone- worst of all you could crack your skull on the ice or suffer spinal injury. No bueno.

If you can’t help it and you’re going to fall backwards–

Try your best to get as low to the ice as possible before it happens and land on the meaty part of your butt. At the same time tuck your chin forward into your chest & hold it there to avoid head injury. Don’t hold your hands out behind you to ‘catch’ your fall, you’ll break your wrist!

Speaking of breaking your wrist..

  • When you fall regardless of the position, keep your hands balled into fists. This is to keep your fingers from being run over by other skaters- some rinks are busier than others, but it’s a good habit to have to avoid broken fingers. Unfurl your hands only when they’re off the ice or on the ice directly in front of you.
  • Also.. fall with mostly-loose limbs- roll with it!
    Do not become rigid, you’ll be more likely to get injured. Instead try to go with the momentum of the fall, don’t lock your arms or knees. The more ‘springy’ you are, the less likely you’ll be injured.

  • After a fall try to get up safely and move off the ice to avoid other skaters colliding with you- take a breather and shake it off, if you’re seriously injured don’t move from the ice- the ice rink’s staff will come to you! 

And last but not least..

  • You may get hurt. Maybe even badly. 

    The ice is unforgiving and even with all of these tips you could still get badly hurt. It’s a fact but it shouldn’t deter you from skating if you truly love to! I broke my ankle recently while ice skating but I’m eager to get back on the ice.

    It’s just a part of the sport. So don’t be scared, instead be educated and prepared- wear proper gear and don’t try anything too far out of your skill set.

    If you fall- don’t be embarrassed! Even Olympic skaters fall, and quite often too! Don’t let it deter you from your goals. :)

Happy skating and stay safe out there!

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Hockey Summer School?

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that one of the very first things I got emotional about when I was getting into hockey (before I even had a favorite team or player) was the lack of Real Life Skills these guys had when they retired.  Don’t ask me why, this was just what Hockey Rookie Kim decided to fixate on. Now that I know my way around the sport a bit more I’ve come up with what I deem to be a brilliant plan to help these guys out right when they’re about to get to the big time.  I propose an intensive summer school type situation the summer after these kids get drafted that should help them navigate both 1.) being in the public eye and 2.) suddenly having all the freedoms of a very rich adult.

Listen up NHL, I’ve already made your curriculum for you.

Day 1: Hair Gel: Just Say No (and other style tips)

Many hockey players leave home to pursue their dreams at the ripe old age of 15. I don’t know if you remember being 15 but if for some reason you’ve blocked it out let me remind you: no one is fashionable at 15. I had finally learned how to use frizz serum after I figured out that humidity + curly hair isn’t a good combo. I thought wearing those jelly bracelets from Hot Topic was the Height of Fashion and I made everyone wear converse to my Quincenera. Luckily, I’ve grown since then.

Maybe it’s the lack of parental influence asking them “is that really what you’re wearing?” when they leave the house or maybe it’s the fact that they’re spending nearly all of their teenage boy brainpower on hockey- but hockey players are not exactly known for being the best dressed.*

As the name of this course implies, one of the main focuses will be to show these boys that hair gel is not the be all end all of hair styling expertise. In fact, I think this course should show them other options to tame their locks and just preemptively ban them from buying it except in case of extreme emergency. I’m doing all of us a favor here.

Other styling tips would include throwing out all of their flip-flops and going through their wardrobes in a What Not To Wear style montage. Do you think the NHL could hire Stacy London for a week?

At the end of this course everyone gets a commemorative t-shirt that reads “Soft Hands & Soft Hair Makes a Winning Player

Day 2: The Internet and You

Personally, if I was trying to work my way towards the Very Public occupation of being a professional athlete from a young age, I would be pretty self-conscious about what I posted on social media. But maybe that’s just me.  I’m assuming teenage boys think differently.

In any case, it would probably be a good idea to give these boys a crash course in the do’s and don’ts of social media to avoid any major mishaps. Realistically, mistakes will happen and things will get tweeted in the heat of the moment that can’t be deleted (The internet never forgets, kids. There will always be screenshots.)- but hopefully they can steer the kids away from any big mess ups and remind them why slurs and derogatory terms are a bad idea. You know, just an idea.

This course might also be a good intro into how to best use the internet to foster a connection to their fan base if the player is into that sort of thing. With more and more players getting outside modeling and endorsement deals, it would be nice to show them how to cultivate a #brand from the get- go.

Day 3: How to Eat Like a Grown Up

Lately several NHL teams have been contributing to my favorite genre of online video which is Large Clueless Boys Learning How to Cook. It’s like Masterchef but no one knows what they’re doing and everyone eats a million calories a day. Amazing.

I’m pretty sure that teams are actually starting to give their new guys basic cooking lessons, but I would like to make sure that these kids really know what they’re doing. They could do a Guy’s Grocery Games type deal that teaches these guys the importance of having a well stocked kitchen. They could have handy little charts that show them that ordering out every night is way less cost effective and delicious than learning how to cook. (I’m looking at you Seguin.)

Listen, I may be able to get away with just throwing stuff together and hoping if it all works out (and ordering a pizza if it doesn’t) but these guys make their entire livelihoods from being in the best shape possible and sometimes I have to go to my mom’s house for dinner because I forgot to go grocery shopping for 2 weeks in a row. Don’t be like me Tyler Seguin, you can do better.

Day 4: Smiling: It’s important

Going back to day 3, a big part of being a professional hockey player is the fact that your life is going to be much more public now. People might recognize you or go to special events where you are and ask you for pictures.

I’ll admit that this course might be more for my own amusement than anything that might help these poor boys out, but bless their hearts some of these boys do not know how to smile. Help them.    

Day 5: Spend Your $$$

Now that our Hockey Babies have made it to the big time and are now Hockey Toddlers, they’re going to be making a lot more money than any young person should reasonably have. Broadly speaking, yes, a salary that starts at 500k and only goes up is a lot of money. But we have to take into account the fact their careers are very dangerous and could end at any time with an injury that could potentially leave them unable to work any other job for the rest of their lives. This is a depressing thought, and personally I like to think of my faves as invincible and playing forever but we all know that’s not always the case.

So we should teach these kids how to handle their money responsibly so not only will they be alright in the absolute Worst Case Scenario of them being injured, but also because it’s just the responsible thing to do. I promise you that no one needs 15 sports cars, even if they look super sweet.

 

*There are, of course, exceptions. PK Subban, for example, is very well dressed.