Eat, sleep, dream – HOCKEY… once upon a time!

First of all…. the featured image is not mine…. but yes, I did play in that sheet of ice… and let me tell you that it was a lifetime experience…

As some of you may know, once upon a time my life rotated around Hockey… It was “eat, sleep, dream, HOCKEY”. Although those times are now over, I wanted to at least  post one piece about what I believed was the foundation of my endurance lifestyle I live nowadays. I will make this a short post, since it was so long ago a barely remember the details, but instead I will make of this post a short Hockey biography…

One thing I trully miss about hockey is the brotherhood you get to build with your team. That’s one thing endurance sports/training lack… Even though you might have a training partner/training club or team it will never be the same, because on competition days its all about individualistic efforts. Don’t get me wrong… I love endurance sports, bikepacking and backpacking trips, camping trips and adventures now a days more than anything. Also you get to create some pretty amazing bonds while out there in nature in during adventures… but the fact of being out there in the hockey ice/arena and just knowing what your line-buddie is thinking makes me speechless.
Also having had the opporutnity of wearing the Venezuela National jersey and standing in front of an international crowd while listening to your national anthem at a world championship I can bet my life on I will have very few moments again that will make me have goosebumps the way those moments made me.
And lastly, that scoring a gol feelling….. no better felling…… Just makes me want to go back and play again! (it’s been over 3 years since the last time a skated…)

 

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Hockey Teams I have Played for:

  • U.E. Colegio Los Arcos. Caracas, Venezuela (Roller Hockey)
  • Oaklawn Academy. Edgerton, WI. (where I learned how to Ice Skate)
  • Caboclos de Miranda. Caracas, Venezuela
  • Brazil Wizards. @Ontario, Canada.
  • Villeneuve V. Paris, France. (Ellite Roller Hockey Division in France)
  • Venezuela National Hockey Team
  • St. Scholastica. Duluth, MN. (didn’t make the team)
  • Cannibals of Venezuela. (travel hockey team)
  • Chiefs. Oxnard, California.

 

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So everything started when at the age of 12 I played baseball. My cousin, Jorge Velandia was at the time playing in the major leagues, so back home coaches actually liked me because of that. I was a pretty decent SS, but a mediocre bat. I thought I was en route of playing baseball for as long as I could, until I got asked to go to the bench before an important tournament with the “Criollitos de Venezuela” because they wanted to try out a new SS. This happened twice in a row until one day I told my coach that if that happened again I was never going to put on a baseball glove again…. and that’s how my short baseball career came to an end and how my long hockey career started.

Unfortunately none of my parents were ever photography fans, so I basically have NO pictures of my as a kid playing or doing sports. Later on that year a new sport appeared in my high school… Rollr Hockey. WTF?!? Roller hockey in Venezuela???? Well yes, roller hockey in venezuela. I joined the team, and inmediatly after me joining the team my parents sent my to a boarding school in Edgerton, WI. Here I got to play ice and roller hockey. I even remember me having a rivalry against a Mexican guy who went by the nickname of “moe”… can’t remember his name now, but I later found out that he even made to IIHF worlds (the best hockey tournament out there). We used to have one on one games to see who was better, and to the best of my memories (cant trully tell if I am making this up) we even had public cheering and looking at our games.

portrait
D1 – Narch Finals @ Hershey Centre

Then I went back home in Venezuela and kept playing for my highschool. This is the time when a key person in my hockey career appeared as my hockey coach, Juan de Dios Singer AKA “el coach”. He was the one who taught me almost everything I know about hockey… (everything but the slap shoot/one-timer… this was Roi Ledo…. one of the sickest slap shoots and one timers I have ever seen – also one of my best friends who recently past away). Anywho, the fact is that from this moment on, Juan de Dios put all his efforts to train a group of kids in order to have a generation behind the actual national team. Couple of us made the national team (me personally.. tried out twice before I made the team, which in my opinion was ridiculous, but thats another story). And after making the team I got the opportunity to represent my country in a couple world championships (Prague, Czech Republic and Anaheim, USA).

worlds 1
Bench @ worlds – Czech Republic

Almost at the end of my hockey career, while going to college in duluth, MN I heard about the biggest pond hockey tournament in the world (suppously). I quickly reach out to my buddies in Venezuela and Miami and we sign up for the tournament. The tournament has its own tradition, where the winning teams get to stamp their name on the “Golden Shovel”. For those of you wondering how pond hockey works, its basically 4 on 4 without a golie, and the goal is just a small whole in a wodden piece place on each ends of the natural rink. The year we played they had 25 rinks and most of them in first phases were non stop games for several hours, nothing like any sports event we (and probably you) have never seen before. Not only the tournament takes place in Minneapolis, MN (the hockey state), but also it attracks NHL (active and former) players, which makes the competitive level amazing. I dont really want to reveal our game scores (I honestly dont remember), but we didnt do as bad as we expected. I believe we won one game out of the four we played and only one game we lost by a humiliating difference.

vnzla australia
Vnzla Vs. Australia
never keep your eyes away from the puck
Never take your eyes of the puck
game face
Game Faces

At the end we even had some air time on a national tv morning show, were I got national expoussure….. My dad’s lawyer called him with the news, but when he told my dad over the phone he was calling about Gabriel (his son) he panicked…. he thought… this is not good, my lawyer calling about my son who is in the U.S…… luckily it was to tell him that he had seen our team on natioanl telivision. Also a bunch of faculty got to see the piece, which was kind of cool.

In conclusion… you have no idea how much I miss the game and I cant wait to put on a pair of skates and play some puck again…..

 

 

 

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