By Alina Croft (Instagram: lina_gail, Twitter: alina_croft)
New week, new feature! Meet Susan Kole, a member of the Elko Hockey Recreational Team. Didn’t know our little town had a hockey league? Apparently, that’s a common consensus! Susan was kind enough to take the time to spend some of her time talking with me about the league, her life, and what she sees as most important in life.
The Beginning of Susan and Hockey
Susan has had a hankering to play hockey since she was a child growing up in Minnesota, but at the time, she faced many obstacles making her goal unachievable.
“I always wanted to play. I grew up in a home where I was the only girl of five kids, so I was not expected to play hockey; I was put over on the figure skating rink,” said Susan.
However, Susan wasn’t the first to play in her immediate family in Elko; her oldest child, a twelve-year-old daughter, then eight-years-old, started the trend with Elko’s own roller hockey. Now all of her four kids, besides the baby, play.
“My daughter tried softball and a couple of other things, and I got a thing home from her school that was a week free trial for hockey,” said Susan. “She’s never really connected with sports; it’s just never been her thing. For whatever reason, hockey just really got her. She loved it, and she grew so much from it, even just in that first week.”
Susan found out from her daughter’s involvement that Elko also has an adult league, so she threw on her rollerblades and skated into a new hobby.
“I remember asking my dad specifically for a pair of hockey boots, and he told me that girls don’t wear those. I think that was a driving force, kind of like ‘Bet me, yes I can,'” said Susan. “I heard there was an adult league, and I was like, you know what, I think I could really like this. So, I went. They’re such a great group.”
Coaching and Skating
Susan is a dedicated player, but also a dedicated coach.
“Elko Hockey needed a coach, so I stepped up, and I joined the board. I started coaching, and I’ve been doing that ever since,” said Susan.
But still, she isn’t without challenges in her coaching and playing.
“Right now, we’re a roller hockey league. One of the challenges of that is there’s no competition. In order to compete or even play with anyone besides ourselves, we have to travel to Pocatello or Carson City,” said Susan. “At this point with roller, we can only compete with ourselves, which kind of makes it difficult when it comes to sports.”
A Unique Community
Susan spoke about hockey being a little off the beaten path, and instead in a rink of some type.
“It’s a little different than other sports. Hockey, especially in Elko right now, is kind of a little crew of misfits. It’s not the most popular sport, and it kind of becomes the ‘I’ve put my kid in everything else, let’s try hockey too.’ That seems to be where they fit,” said Susan. “Everybody’s a little weird, and those are my people.
Hockey makes for a good hobby; it also is an intense and different workout than the normal gym routine.
“There’s also the physical aspect. It’s hard to exercise as an adult; it’s not fun. But, if you can do something fun with it, that makes it a lot easier. I don’t have to go drag myself to play; I’m going to go play and have fun,” said Susan.
Specifically, it gives the Elko community a special way to remain active and be a part of a team for adults.
“In the adult aspect, Elko has something unique and special when it comes to the recreational league. I don’t have a lot of experience elsewhere, but everyone that comes and visits our rec league sees that we have built something special,” said Susan. “Most of us didn’t play sports as kids. We are not experienced skaters or athletes. There is a handful of us that couldn’t even stand our first day out.”
Elko Hockey league is more than a group of teams; it’s a family.
“Elko Hockey, as a whole, has become basically a family unit. Whatever curveball life throws at you, everybody steps up to try and make a difference. It became a really awesome community,” said Susan.
A Possible Icy Transition
“Matt Burwell is actually the forerunner for the ice rink; he’s been with Elko Hockey since the very beginning,” said Susan. “I’m not going to lie, I was a little hesitant with the ice because it is more expensive, but looking at the opportunities we would have as a hockey league is quadrupled. Salt lake alone has like 15 ice sheets, and that opens up a lot of opportunities to do things other than just play ourselves.”
With an ice rink, there is a huge possibility for growth with the support of our community.
“Elko Hockey is a fantastic organization built up with a very wide variety of people from all over Elko and Spring Creek. I think that the growth that I’ve seen within Elko Hockey has been awesome, and I think the ice rink will only propel that further and give unique opportunities that people haven’t had before,” said Susan.
The Most Important Takeaways
I like to end every interview and article I do with one question, ‘What is the most important thing you want AAT readers to know about you, what you’re passionate about, or general advice?’ Susan’s response touched me; few people look at life with her type of attitude.
“Just give it a try. In my experience, very, very rarely do people come out and try and not want to come back. Anything you think you might take a little bit of interest in or want to try something new, I say go for it. You never know.”
To my Anthony Around Town-er’s as I’ve nicknamed you, let’s all take that energy with us into the next week. And also, maybe consider trying out hockey!
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Until next time, we’ll see you around, Elko!