The Olympics

By: pbcmedia

Feb 21 2010

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Brothers, CHILDHOOD, Nostalgia


Focal Length:30mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 5D

My late brother and I had one thing in common growing up: we wanted to skate.

Day after winter day we’d go down to a cleared patch on the nearby pond (we had cleared it) and lace our skates to try and get better.

He wanted to play for his school hockey team.

I just wanted to remain vertical.

We didn’t talk very much as I remember.  He had a hockey stick and sometimes narrated a play by play of shots on an imaginary goal.  I tried to skate backwards and not fall over.

Truth be told, our skills were not as gifted as our dreams.  He ended up as the goal tender on his junior varsity team and his moods were positively foul following each loss.

I never did master “forwards”  skating never mind  skating “backwards”.

We both were “ankle” skaters.  Our ankles, it was pointed out, were sometimes where the blade should be–which makes speed impossible and grace elusive.

But, on this patch of pond, day after day, it didn’t matter.  We had our dreams and as we walked home in the fading light, our very very sore ankles seemed proof positive–not of our limitations– but that we were getting better.

©Pat Coakley 2010


**Select images from this blog and my wider archive can be purchased at


10 comments on “The Olympics”

  1. what a beautiful photo. i grew up skating on just such patches and cranberry bogs and the ‘kennedy memorial skating rink’ which sigh no longer exists as of last year. gone, an empty lot. but a few hundred yards away the new gigantic sports arena with its olympic size enclosed rink. it is a small city, overpopulated with eager children. sigh. i still like to skate, and it has been a good boggy winter.

  2. There are times when I can’t recall someones’ name ten minutes after meeting them, but can call up details of memories that seem carved from decades ago.
    This post, and your description of ” those ankles ” brought me back to that ineffectual attempt to ice skate as a 9 year old.
    Skating backwards was as bizarre a concept as scaling a building.
    I always blamed my perpendicular ankle skating to cheap skates.
    It made me feel that my non-prowess wasn’t my fault.

    Love that strong light coming from behind. If we kept practicing, Pat, maybe we would have skated to the light. But damn, my ankles hurt too much to keep on.
    Athletes have my deepest bow.

    • Honestly, Bonnie, it hurt like hell! But, we kept on going. I do think they put my brother in goal because he didn’t skate very well, tho!!

  3. It looks like a photo of the hole in the Canadian psyche after yesterdays loss in the hockey.

    • Oh, this is a really big story in my neck of the woods!! The writer in the paper thought it was a terrific game…the only thing that could have made it better? If it was the game for the “gold” medal!

  4. Very funny razzbuffnik!
    This is a lovely sentimental picture. I learned to skate (if you can call it that) at the outdoor community rink just below the town grade school. Try as I might, I never caught on… the only way I could stop once I got going was by falling down on the ice, or plowing off the rink into the snowbank and then falling down. I never had sore ankles, just a bruised body by the end of the night.

  5. Oh, your story just makes me smile, Don! Many a time I ran right off the pond’s edge in order to stop!

  6. for most people skills are never as gifted as their dreams. I remember ice skating as a kid in Propspect Park in Brooklyn. I absolutely loved it. I would try it again in a minute. I was able to mostly remain vertical.

    Loved your story and your beautiful photo.

  7. at razzbuffnik: I think for many Canadians, winning medals is just icing on the cake:
    … winning at hockey is the cake.

    Me? … not always the best team wins … but it’s just nice to watch a game that is a game.

    It’s a great day for hockey!”

    Bob Johnson (American 1931-1991)

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