On the George Washington Broken Project: Special Remembrance of Hockey Past Edition


In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with birds.

Recently one of our oldest friends from high school got in touch.

He moved to the city and found our address in the alumni directory. We haven’t seen him since our ten-year reunion, which was — ouch — twelve years ago.

It’s strange how someone you haven’t thought about in years can suddenly appear. But sometimes there’s a reason!

We played on the same hockey team, under a coach who was quite possibly the meanest, most miserable bastage we’ve ever met. It was not just that he was a screamer who broke chalk boards in between periods and threw hockey sticks dangerously close to our heads — and yes, kids puking after sprints (“boardbusters”) at the end of a practice was not unusual — but the way he belittled us (collectively and individually) for doing anything from say, not backchecking to turning in a subpar essay in one of our classes. Any minor infraction could get you benched at a minimum or — most cruelly — demoted to the junior varsity, whose ranks were filled with losers who played just for fun.* This was at a point in our lives when we — like most of the kids on the varsity — had left home in large degree to play hockey, so the idea of saying “fuck you asshole, we’re so out of here” was not really conceivable, because we had all been playing hockey since the time we could walk. Some kids respond positively to this kind of “disclipinary approach,” but we just wilted and felt shitty, knowing that we were failing at the one thing to which we had devoted our entire life to that point. (We finally did quit senior year, after we broke out in a rash before the season had even started and were actively fantasizing about hurling ourselves from the school tower.)

*Note to IHeartRR: this is not a belief we currently hold, but yes, sadly we were once raging junior-varsity bigots.

For many years — as we quickly learned in a few e-mails exchanged with our friend — this coach haunted our dreams. There’s no question in our mind that adolescents are particularly vulnerable to a certain type of win-at-all-cost egomaniacal torture commonly found in organized sports — not to mention the rampant homophobia — and as result often emerge from these situations with emotional wounds that can last a lifetime.

Perhaps this is the reason our friend found us after all of these years.

It will be good to see him, so that together we can release these old demons, and let them fly away.

2 Responses to “On the George Washington Broken Project: Special Remembrance of Hockey Past Edition”

  1. 1 kirsten

    Wait…are you Canadian???

    Also, one of the minorly amazing things about adult hood is becoming the age of adult authority figures and realizing how sick at worst and ill-qualified at best to work with children. Adults knew what he was doing, someone could have/should have stopped it. But they did not.

  2. Hey K–not Canadian, but have a lot of roots there (although the hockey thing is more of a coincidence…)

    But yes, I totally agree with what you said about adult figures and wondering how they got away with some of the shit they pulled. It’s some consolation to know that I will never treat kids the way I was treated.

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