JCC Floor Hockey


Juranka's Corner

Feb 19, 2007

20 years ago a bunch of yahoos
with a mutual respect for ball hockey
got together to play every monday night
in a gym that was too small

the consistence of their dedication
meant that every monday
there would be enough players
to make a decent game

that dedication was the glue
that began the league

that league moved from the gym
that is now the al green theatre
to the BIG gym
and the membership grew

the early days were rough
because there was no referee so
fights and brutal checks
were the order of the day

by 1997 there were 4 full teams
and each team had its own goalie.
this was the year i joined as a goalie
on a team with patrick and tanner

tony was a jcc employee
who administered the league
by organising the teams
and occassionally reffing

during the course of this year
one of my team-mates died
of an aneurism he sufferred
during the game

his name was eduard koehl and
he was only 26 years old
with a pregnant wife and
a child he would never see

the tone softened drastically
after this event because it became clear
that our sport could be dangerous
even if the fighting was disallowed

tony kicked out the most vicious player
and simultaneously accepted 4 women
into the league, one for each team

the ed koehl award was presented
at the end of the year to the player
who best represented the dual qualities
of hard work and sportsmanship

perhaps more than any event
this tragedy began the movement
that we would hereafter refer to as
the spirit of the league

at this time the firkin tradition began
and the benefits of post game analysis,
apologies, reminiscences and beer
completed the evening

when the new building began construction
we had the choice of postponing the league,
moving to a new venue, or continue
playing in a construction site without
showers and locker rooms

during this time we had to get used to
equipment scattered all around the walls
so the games would be delayed because
retrieving the ball could take quite some time

a committee was formed
to coordinate league business which
mostly had to do with communicating
our concerns to the jcc administration

other venues were being considered
and the finals were played
in various gyms around the neighbourhood

we then discovered that construction
would take much longer and the debate raged
around whether or not to endure
a second season in the construction site

the decision to stay with the jcc for
an additional year of construction was made
so the faithful lived thru the inconveniences
and this impressed one jcc administrator named kim

from that point on she began
a new level of jcc involvement and
found money for a full time referee,
new goalie equipment and an end-of-year banquet

the firkin contributed money for jerseys
and the league began to have a new look to it

aron contributed his old hockey trophies
and together we began presenting
the joke awards at the banquet

i began writing a weekly newsletter that
was emailed out to the players
and in spite of our problems
our community flourished

the firkin was full of sweaty players and
i remember how cold it was
going into the pub in winter-time
but after a few pints the sweat dried on you
so it was not so bad when you left

after the construction years
we began to enjoy
not only lockers and showers
but a hot-tub and schvitz as well

we went from ghetto to club med overnight
and in this glorious year the MTV line
of mitch, tim and vinnie built the website
adding yet another completely new dimension
to our league

stats and schedule, forums and official rules
were all available online and
my weekly newsletter became juranka's corner
and each player had a photo card like the pros

we all knew that this is cutting edge stuff
but then we were canadian and thus
famous for both our internet savy
as well as our hockey so if not here...
then where ?

sander began buying trophies
and aron took on the role of ensuring
that we had goalies for every game

kim left and anissa took over and
we enjoyed more sticks then any league
(could shake a stick at)

now we are again faced
with an immense challenge

only a quarter of the players
are members of the jcc
and over the past twenty years
the jcc had no problem with this

each year enough old players left
so that most of the new members
who wanted to get in
could be accepted

these days even with our grandfather clause
that allows our returning non-members
to register at the same time as new members
our old members are taking all but a few spots

this is a testament to the appreciation we feel
for the opportunity to play together

the glue that began the league twenty years ago
is now stronger than ever but the members
who witness our hockey fever in the locker rooms
and in the gym not surprisingly want to join in

unfortunately although the demand is growing
we can only supply 42 spots every year
and the jcc feels that more of those spots
should go to new players who are members

we have grown together
over so many years and
saw each other return from injuries,
have kids, get married,
watched the olympics at the firkin,
witnessed our hair turning grey
and shared so many experiences

it seems inconceivable to us
to cut ties with such old friends

if we needed to make space
for even ten more new players
which non members
would be the ones to go ?

jeff and lessem were original founding members
of the league twenty years ago
and yet they are currently not members

most of the players
who are playing now
were playing when i started
and that means that
most of them have been there
for at least a decade

as a committee member
it was clear from the start
that this issue was going to be
the most important
piece of business that
i would have to deal with

our league is not a program
like yoga or swimming or aerobics
because the players
have grown together
and that's what has made it
the wonderful league that it is

even those who have not volunteered their time
have contributed with their spirit and input
and their returning presence is what makes
it simple to have a safe and fun league

the old players are on the same page
and its not too much trouble to convince
the four or five new ones to adjust

the problem is not simply
that it is unfair to those
who have stuck with us through the years
but also that the future
is not very bright
if this league is demoted
to a regular jcc program

the most important loss will be
on the level of community
because we have become more
like a club than a program

those who have watched the progress
appreciate what was needed to create it
and the difficulty with passing on
the spirit of the league will result
in a return to the old days
with its violence and injury

our league is unique
not only in the jcc
but in our city as a whole

every player who has played in other league
unanimously agree that they are all rough
and probably most canadians assume that
hockey equals rough

most leagues have not had the tragedy
of an eduard koehl or at least
have not decided to take actions
because of it

will those eager new players be willing
to give of their time and energy ?

will they contribute to keep up the website ?
enter the stats ?
or fill-in as goalies or refs
when that falls thru ?

probably they won't
because no other jcc program
asks them to participate
on that level

those contributions are labours of love
and before anyone will commit to it they
have to love what they are doing

before we let our league's membership unravel
and allow the cards to fall where they may
we would move our entire league elsewhere

its hard to imagine us all
playing anywhere else
but it may be the lesser of two evils
and since our system
is fully functional
it may be do-able and
our only alternative

after ten years it will be
a difficult adjustment for me
but since i am also a non-member
i have to measure it
against the prospect
that i too may be replaced
by a new player next year

it has been a long history that
no other jcc program can rival
in commitment or progress but
now we are faced with a
dilemna which questions
the value of that commitment
and its decades-long consistency

i am both proud and happy
to have witnessed and participated
in its incredible growth

without a doubt we owe much
to our landlord the jcc
who has come through in the past

we have not lost hope in a strong
and continuing relationship but
realistically we need to brace ourselves
for what may be our biggest setback

on a lighter note,
the red light district
just took second place
from the grey lords

with four games left
in the regular season
the coveted first two spots
are still up for grabs
for all the teams
except white trash

Juranka's Corner Archive

The complete archive of anecdotes, game recaps, rants and ramblings.