Hockey is NOT for Sissys!


Mary Byrne, not destined for hockey stardom, but not afraid to try…

My father was a WWII army veteran, an Eagle boy scout, and played hockey for the University of North Dakota.  You might think his thoughts of forming a family hockey team every winter would be deterred when God gave him three daughters.   Especially when one of them (guess who?) was a real sissy.  Goodness, no!  From the  time we three girls could walk, we were outfitted with ice skates.  Daddy even got old yardsticks and made them into varying sizes of hockey sticks for us.  Pucks were anything we could slap around the ice.  The “fun” (insert sarcasm) began as soon as the ground was frozen and we’d had a good snowfall.

How he devised the plan for an ice skating rink, I’ll never know, but it was quite ingenious.  Daddy spent hours shoveling our backyard until it was level and smooth.  Then he rigged an over sized trashcan filled with water onto the back of a tractor, and proceeded to drive around the yard, spilling the water out as he went. He refilled the can, doing this over and over. Then he put a heavy tarp on the tractor and drug it over the water as it was freezing, so that it would harden with as few bumps as possible.   I can remember his delight when it snowed.  Dad would put on his black leather skates, grab a shovel and clear the ice, mounding all the snow along the edges to form a ridge around the rink.  Then he’d come in the house and announce, “Are you ready for some fun?” (insert panic)

Bundled up so snugly that moving was difficult, I ventured out to the rink.  My older sister Lynda was impressing daddy with her puck-slapping skills. My younger sister Barb, at 3, was balancing on her baby skates remarkably well.  Me, well…my fingers were frozen, my toes were soon achingly numb, my nose was running, and I had tripped and fallen over my hockey stick twice.  Daddy skated over.  “Isn’t this fun?” (insert misery).

A few nights later daddy bundled up after supper and went out to our backyard rink. It was bitter cold. When I asked mom what he was doing she explained that he was putting more water down so that the rink would have a new smooth layer for us the next day.  “He loves making hockey fun for you girls!” (insert admiration)


After that, I tried a little harder.  My fingers still froze, my toes were numb, my nose always ran, and I constantly tripped over my hockey stick. But, I tried – I really tried.  I changed from being a sissy to being sassy! Nothing was going to keep me from being a hockey player! By the end of that winter, I had gotten two black eyes and countless bruises on my shins from being hit with a puck.  But when my daddy said, “Anyone for a game of hockey?” I would yell, “Me, it’s fun!” (insert joy!)

Through the love and patience of my father in teaching me how to play hockey as a young child, I learned to let go of some insecurities and fears. This was the first time I felt what it meant to be freed from something that was holding me back.  This month we are sharing some remarkable books dealing with FREEDOM.  These are stories of ordinary people that were given extraordinary opportunities.   We’ll see the power of how one person can make a difference, when their faith gives them courage and strength.

We begin with the story of Jackie Robinson –   Testing the Ice
Don’t miss Mary’s review.






Mary Byrne Kline


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