Don Poth: Why would anyone 75 Years old play KW Oldtimers Hockey?
Last February, at 3:00 pm, my wife and I were off to our grandson’s pee wee hockey game. Just as we turned out of the driveway, Beth said, “I don’t feel well, I think I’m going to faint!”. I sensed an issue and replied, “We’re heading to the Stratford Hospital”, Off we went. 15 minutes later in the car she thought I should call 911 and get an ambulance. 20 minutes later we met the ambulance and the driver said, “This isn’t good, there is not much of a pulse.” 45 minutes later my two daughters and I were called into a private hospital room and the Doctor told us, “Your wife and your Mother has died of a brain aneurysm.” Quite a shock. At 3:00, she is fine, at 5:00 she’s gone, so sudden.
How do you tell your hockey buddies what happened? I decided to email my team, my curling buddies, and friends to tell them exactly what happened, before the next game instead of repeating it over and over again.
The first game back, I was anxious, how would I be greeted by the team. I went into the dressing room and all these old guys were changing into their equipment. I walked around the room, shaking hands. When I started to change, Mike O’Donnell came up and handed me a loonie sized black sticker with a white “BP” on it (Beth Poth). He said, “All the guys are wearing this on their helmets for the rest of the year. “
I sat on the bench with tears. All four of my grandson hockey players asked for the sticker and put it on their helmet too. Half the team came to my wife’s visitation, some to the funeral, and many emails and cards from my team.
A month later, we were fortunate to be in the final A Division Championship game last year. Before the game began we gathered around the goalie and Brian Schultz took off his helmet pointed to the sticker and said, “Boys this is what we’re playing for!” We scored in the last minute to win 3-2 and won the A Division. I went through my team’s line shaking hands and hugging them with tears. When I shook the hands of the other team, many said “Sorry about your wife”.
This year in A4, we had a spirited game, with too many penalties, too many checks and too many nasty comments. Very unfortunate. At the next game I stood up and told the guys, “Many of my friends think I’m foolish to be playing hockey at my age. I could get hurt. I’m only playing because of you guys and what you did for me last year. The score doesn’t matter, if you really need to win, join a choir! Everyone wins in a choir”. We went out on the ice, lost 5-2. When we came into the dressing room, I asked my team “Any sopranos here?”.
In old timer hockey the only thing that matters is the fellowship, the social time in the dressing room and the wonderful guys you have met and played with over the years. The score of the game is important too, after the items mentioned. That is why at 75 I play Old Timers Hockey.