Latin Hockey On Soldier Field

Staff Writer Once in a lifetime would be the only way to describe my experience at Soldier Field two Friday’s ago. As, hopefully, most of you know, Latin’s Boys Ice Hockey team recently played a Winter Classic-esq game on Soldier field. As a player on the team, I can give you a special glimpse of the player’s experience  during the game. The process truly began at 1 o’clock on Friday afternoon when we left class early to take a team bus to Soldier Field. With everyone dressed for the occasion (for some that meant a coat and tie, for others their warm-ups) we were ready to go and play our hearts out. Arriving at the players’ entrance, we felt like real professionals while we were led through the underbelly of the stadium. In contrast to our usual cramped locker rooms, we were treated to an enormous locker room with a training room, refrigerator, coaches’ offices, televisions, and more. Everything was clean and roomy, giving us a perfect location to prepare for the game. Because of the tight schedule the facility was on (there were two other games right after us), we had to be dressed and ready by 2:45. From then until game time, it seemed like every player was re-taping his stick, visualizing the game, and attempting to relax. Right before we took the long walk to the stadium, a representative from Gatorade prepared us for the game with a pack of energizing Gatorade Primes. A stadium official came in, told us it was time to go, and took us on the seemingly endless walk to the field. As we approached the tunnel, we felt the blast of cold air signifying the game was actually here. Carefully walking out to the benches, we heard something we had not heard in years—students cheering for Latin hockey. A quick glimpse to the left showed the previously unthinkable sight of over 150 Latin students and teachers in the stands ready to cheer us on. It would be fair to say the fans primed us for the game more than any sugary concoction Gatorade could possibly make. Our arrival to the rink brought with it the initially pleasant, but ultimately annoying surprise that the benches were heated. While this was great in the beginning, as the game wore on and our body temperatures rose the benches became painfully warm. Speaking of warm, due to the relatively hot temperatures and a litany of other factors, the ice surface we played on closer resembled a Slushie than ice. There were some puddles of water, bumps, and craters that made for a slower, sloppier game than usual. The game went on, full of ups and downs, hits and shots, excitement and disappointment, and we unfortunately ended up losing our early lead and the game. Though we retreated to the locker rooms disappointed and frustrated, the experience was undoubtedly one of the most amazing moments in my hockey career. Speaking on behalf of the team, I want to thank everyone who made this experience possible. Thank you to Intersport for allowing high school games on the field. Thank you to Mr. Dunn, Mr. Graf, Student Government, and anyone else involved for giving students the opportunity to come see us play that afternoon. And finally, thank you to the students who came out and supported us—it was incredible having you all there to cheer us on, and I hope at least some of you will think about coming to another game soon.]]>