The 40-Year-Old (Goalie) Virgin Part 2: Sacrifice on the Iron Altar
The adventures of our unlikely rookie continue! You can read part one of The 40-Year-Old (Goalie) Virgin here.
“Physical fitness” and “beer league goalie” are two phrases that might never have been in the same sentence till right now. For me though, my goalie story would never have happened without my time in the gym.
A little over four years ago, a fitness group I joined got me started in weightlifting. I discovered I really liked it. I also discovered that I was terrible at self-coaching. I tried to work around myself for a while, but between my mortal fear of Injury via Ignorance and my having — as a German friend put it — “the kinesthetic sense of a bratwurst,” I finally made my peace with the fact that I needed some adult supervision if I wanted to make any meaningful progress. It turned out to be one of the more fortuitous failures I’ve ever made, because it brought strength and conditioning coach Dan Allison
Forgive me a bit of gushing here, Gentle Reader, but there aren’t enough words in this language for me to adequately describe Dan. There are few individuals I have trusted so implicitly, which is remarkable because my general level of reserve doesn’t allow for much of that. Sometimes I think that’s the real reason we crossed paths. The physical gains have been nigh miraculous: last winter, I stood from kneeling for the first time since that major asthma episode all but robbed me of my ability to walk. Something about risking putting myself in the hands of a near stranger lit a spark. I wouldn’t be doing this right now if I hadn’t taken that step. No matter what happens here, I will be eternally grateful to him for his role in my evolution.
I was training three times a week and loving every minute right up until January 2017, when my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I stopped to make myself more available to help my mom, who was determined to care for him herself. Dad passed on in March; though I missed the environment at the gym — and my body was none too subtle about how much it missed moving — I simply hadn’t been back.
And then I decided I was going to goalie.
Having had a host of sharp goalies to observe over the last few years, I’ve noted some common characteristics across the species:
Um…I had socks?
It was time for a grand re-entrance at the goalie dojo.
Squeezing it in was going to be a challenge. My day job was 33 miles away on the other side of town, I was already committed to physical therapy twice a week to fix a muscle imbalance bothering my knees, and I had to do a 70-hour professional observation as a prerequisite for grad school. But the crease demands its pound of flesh (or 70 pounds of it, in my case). I was going to have to make it work if my dreams of goalie ascendancy were going to happen. Builds character or something, right?
Anyone who has ever returned to a fitness program after an extended time away already knows what a dumpster fire that first session is. Things done with only reasonable amounts of effort before now feel like they’re happening at two-and-a-half times gravity. For me, it was two-and-a-half times gravity with knees that weren’t yet as enthusiastic about this idea as I was.
To add a layer of chaos, instead of working with Dan, this time I’d be working under Jordan Crespi, a longtime student and friend of Dan’s who had risen to the coaching staff during my absence. This change was much easier to take than the knee thing was, as I’d always liked and admired Jordan. But it was still a change. Dan and I already knew what to expect from each other, what to pay attention to, and what to politely ignore. Now I would need to forge something new with Jordan, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.
I can’t say I’ve acquitted myself all that well the first couple of sessions. Sometimes, even when I’ve sworn to shut up and trust the process, there’s that anxious bit that can’t resist the urge to abruptly dive for the wheel. I’d have put myself in the corner, but if I was annoying Jordan as much as I was annoying myself, he had the extreme grace to avoid showing it. For whatever reason, that actually served to relax me a little.
There is a lot for both of us to learn and get used to here — new programming and benchmarks for me, a new head case for him — but I do believe we’re going to get along just fine. I just hope we can keep the hip circle to a relative minimum.
My goodness, I hate that thing.