by Jess(ica) D of the Dark Rainbows

I still remember the first time I encountered BTSH. Walking my dog around Tompkins, I was instantly intrigued by the large crowd of people at the skate park playing sneaker hockey and drinking beer. It looked rowdy, it looked fast paced, it looked fun.  It reminded me of playing floor hockey in gym class- a crowd favorite. I stood nostalgically watching a shootout, seeing the rambunctious cheers from not just those on the team but everyone on the blacktop and knew this was something I wanted to be a part of. I kept walking my dog around the courts every Sunday until I finally managed to ask someone leaving what the league was. Our exchange was brief but helpful:

“What’s this called?”
“Black top street hockey!”
“How can I join?”
“There’s a website, you can email the league and try to be a free agent.”

I sent an email but never heard back. You guys are like the mafia- hard to get in, impossible to leave. A year later a work softball teammate of mine asked if I wanted to join his team because “we could use some girls”. I instantly said yes, not realizing it was the same league that had previously eluded me. And thus, I became Jess D of the Dark Rainbows.

For those of you who don’t know (and I feel like it’s very few because I never shut the fuck up about this), I played division 1 college field hockey. I look back on that time and that team as one of the best experiences of my life. The bond I had with those girls grew into friendships I know will last forever. I can’t properly articulate how much I loved that team, the sense of community and closeness we all shared. I guess that’s why I talk about it so much. I felt truly lucky to have that rare experience and thought I’d never have something like that again. But then I joined this league.

Without a doubt, BTSH is one of my favorite things about living in New York. I used to dread Sundays, now I can’t wait for them. I actively plan my summer trips and activities around my hockey schedule (my friends think I’m in a cult). The friends I’ve made, memories we’ve created and online bullying I’ve withstood are all part of what makes BTSH great. What else makes BTSH great? Cheering for your friends’ teams. Booing your friends’ teams. The rivalries. The upsets. The media. The facebook page (fine let’s agree to disagree on that). Old School and New School BTSH. The fact that we can park our butts on some hot asphalt and drink beer until the sun sets like a bunch of adult kids at summer camp. I could go on, but I’ll stop myself there.

Not many people know this but at the beginning of the summer, I thought I was going to move to Australia in the fall. I didn’t change my mind because of BTSH per say, but I took a long hard look at my life here, the community I had surrounding me; I felt like I was finally in my own special groove, like I truly belonged where I was supposed to be. Every year in New York has been great but this has been the best one yet and I know BTSH played a huge role in that.

I guess what I’m trying to say through all my convoluted rambling is that I’m so grateful to be part of this wacky community of wonderful, competitive, driven, hilarious, amazing people. I’ve learned so many things from this experience but the number one lesson I’ll always carry with me in life is this: don’t be a dick.

Great advice.

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