Floor Hockey at the Woodson YMCA
by Dino Corvino on December 16th, 2015
I am not a particularly athletic man, nor was a particularly athletic young person. I mean, I have some stand out athletic moments, but nothing you would get a ribbon for, or something like that. I think if I had to pick a top few, it would look like this:
- At a scrimmage between DC Everest (where I went to school) and Edgar in tenth grade, I threw a bounce pass to Keith Krueger on a fast break that will always make my heart sing. I was a bench warmer by that point, so I was just happy to get to play in a scrimmage since I was never getting in the real games.
- Beating my father in ping pong. This established me as the greatest ping pong player of all time, since I beat a 60-year-old man wearing trifocals in our basement after ten years of trying.
- Being on the Woodson YMCA floor hockey team that traveled to Stevens Point to play their all-stars when I was in grade school.
- Every rink rat moment of hockey I ever played with my brother.
But, for today let us focus on Number 3.
Like I have written about before, I was a YMCA child. The Woodson YMCA specifically. When I was growing up there was not the ‘new Edition’ to the Y, which is the area with the running track, lap pool, and other things. That happened when I was young. Back then there was the main door on 3rd, and there was the gym, the pool, the youth area, the locker rooms downstairs, and what was called the multipurpose room upstairs. We had paper cards, later on we had these cool plastic cards that you ran through a machine that made a loud clunking sound when it went it.
Anyway, back then parents would drop their kids off in the morning, and we would fend for ourselves all day at the Y. Typically, our day would roll the same way, swim lessons, then a team sport, then some free time for something like lunch, then another sport or activity, and then our folks would get called to come get us. We were with our friends, independent sort of, and we loved it. It felt like OUR place. It was a different time, when parents could just leave their kids at the Y, and the staff sort of mother henned us.
Well, one of my activities on Saturday was floor hockey, and it was run by a guy named Terry Armstrong. Terry also ran Camp Sturtevant for a while. He had a mustache, glasses, and seemed like an adult, except he was at the Y every time we were at the Y, so he was like us, but like them. I am not sure. But, he was around.
We had a floor hockey league. All the boys played. I do not know if girls played, I am not sure. They might have, but I just do not have any memory, so forgive me. There were about 6 teams or so, all of us in grade school. We would play games in the multi purpose room upstairs. At the time there was a kitchen up there for some reason, and the score keeper would keep track of everything inside the kitchen window. Some bigger kids ‘coached’ us and made sure everyone got to play.
I remember everything. The red sticks, the yellow sticks, the sticks with tape wrapped around them marking the ‘center’, and the goalie sticks with their large blades. The goals were about as tall as we were. The teams sat on folded up mats in each corner. When play stopped you ran to the kitchen window and subbed yourself in.
I remember being good at the game, and it stands out for me in my memory. I remember playing goalie, and having a game that my friends thought was amazing. It felt heroic, and still does. I remember that I had rivals, the Kraft brothers. I felt amazing as a floor hockey player.
I am not sure why, or how, but at some point a deal was made between the Woodson Y and the Stevens Point Y to play our sports teams against each other. Sort of traveling teams. The Woodson Y had a youth basketball team, The Royals, and they traveled around and we looked up to them. But, suddenly there was a floor hockey traveling team, and it was a sort of all star team, and we were going to go to another Y and play them in a competitive game.
How cool was that?
I was lucky enough to be selected two years in a row. That meant four games against Point. 1 here, 1 there, 1 here, 1 there. I remember being so scared. But, I also remember it was the first time I was ever coached at anything. Terry Armstrong coached us, built us up, and we rode in a van without out parents to Stevens Point and played floor hockey. I am going to assume that our parents followed in their own cars, but maybe not. We were on our own.
I do not remember winning or losing. What I remember is being coached for the first time. I remember floor hockey. I remember the pride that it instilled in me to represent the Y in this sort of way. I went on to be incredibly confident playing floor hockey at my school with my own friends, in fact I remember distinctly being a cocky kid for the first time in my life. Feeling like no one had the secret knowledge that the Y had given me.
The Y changed me in so many ways. I am writing about them a lot more these days because I am thinking about the young kid I see at the Y, and I wonder about their experience and if it mirrors my own. The Woodson YMCA was a formative place for me. And for the rest of my life, I will be grateful.