Friday, March 20, 2020 - Submitted by Jamie Taylor
It feels like the world has been thrown into total chaos with the COVID-19 pandemic. Fights are breaking out in supermarkets, overseas travel is out of the question, entire industries are coming to a standstill, and people are being advised to self-isolate themselves away from family and friends. Despite all that’s going on, the loss of hockey never seemed possible. Yet here we are a month out from arguably the most exciting time of the year, the start of the AIHL season and the NHL playoffs, and both are suspended. Not being able to have an AIHL season is unprecedented, not seeing the best players in the world compete in a seven-game series for the Stanley Cup even more so, yet these are the unknowns we currently face. While we patiently wait for more answers, and even more (im)patiently wait for hockey to come back, it’s a good time to reflect on the Adrenaline, and the place it holds in the community.
It’s no secret to anyone who has even remotely followed the Adrenaline for the past few seasons that the team has been struggling with the on-ice results. It’s been a long time since we’ve had the opportunity to celebrate a win, even longer since we’ve seen the team compete in a finals series. But despite all this, there are so many things to be proud of as an Adrenaline fan. We have seen the emergence of Jake Riley, winning the team most valuable player award as a nineteen-year-old. The development of Zach Boyle, into an Australian representative at the senior level. We’ve witnessed the goaltending duo of Glen Forbes-White and Jeremy Friederich, without question the youngest pair of local goalies the AIHL has to offer yet both proving themselves capable at the top level. There’s too many to mention everyone, but every single player on the Adrenaline list has a story to tell. No one has a spot on the roster that hasn’t been earnt, it’s because of the hard work and dedication.
I was recently given the opportunity to attend an Adrenaline training session and go into the changerooms afterwards. It also happened to be the day that a member of the committee was informing the team that this would be the final training session until further notice. For a group of players who are extremely passionate about hockey, I was astounded by the reaction from the team. The team didn’t sulk or carry on, facing months of uncertainty and not being able to play or train competitively. Instead members of the team took it in turn to suggest ways to stay fit during the suspension. Emerging leaders Steve Best and Joey MacDougall came up with a plan to continue off ice training as a team. Other players stood up and emphasised their willingness to contribute money towards ice time so they can continue working as a group. This was a refreshing and reassuring thing to witness. While I’ve never doubted the team is improving, I am confident that whenever the team steps onto the ice, it will be something worth watching.
Off the ice, the Adrenaline really faced some challenges over the past six months. Challenges that, without the support of the people, could have made it difficult for the Adrenaline to enter a team in 2020. The club administration didn’t need to face these challenges alone though. There has been an overwhelming show of support by the community to ensure the club can operate and continue to improve. Whether it be a local player offering to sponsor the Adrenaline player who coaches their team, a sponsor offering their accountant to the club in need of a treasurer or the amazing volunteers who step up whenever asked, the club has been extremely fortunate. It’s these people who you see around the rink, they sit behind you at the game, you might cross paths with them in the carpark. They don’t ask for recognition; they just do what it takes so we can all enjoy the game of hockey.
There are the juniors, who get to enjoy watching the team play with aspirations to one day pull on the jersey and represent the club. They have a pathway through the various state teams and the Adrenaline feeder team, Adelaide Generals, to make it to the top. The supporters, who may not have ever held a stick before, but love the atmosphere and inclusion of the Adrenaline organisation. They love the accessibility of the players, being able to chat with them after the game at the post game venue. The old timers, who have been around hockey since they were young and can enjoy a beer while reminiscing with old friends/foes. The newcomers, who come to their first game and have no idea what they are about to experience or any of the rules. They see a beaten up old shed and wonder what they’ve got themselves in, but then sit crammed next to someone who is more than happy to explain everything to a stranger they’ve never met. By the end of the game, regardless of the score, they are hooked on the sport and will be back the following weekend.
While there’s a hiatus in the season, it’s a great time to remember that Adrenaline is much more than just a team playing hockey. Much more than even the sport itself. The Adrenaline is made up of people, and there’s plenty of them. Whether we get a game in or not this year, Adrenaline will survive, and it will be because of the support of the community. So, while you’re waiting for the season to commence, or in self-isolation, support the Adrenaline as much as you can. Put on your Adrenaline scarf, practice your puck handling in the backyard, share an Adrenaline post to your social media. The Adrenaline relies on this support, and more important than any financial donation is keeping the spirit alive. And who knows, it might not be long until we get to see the boys skating around, hopefully putting a win on the board. Until then, trust that hockey will find a way…it always does.