Commentary: Growing Up at PonkyBy Guest
The following essay was written by Lindsey Nolte, a Canton High School senior and a goalie for the girls varsity ice hockey team.
My stomach was empty, my eyes were heavy, and I fret having to return to this place again. My family silently waited in our SUV packed full of equipment for the traffic light to change color and allow us to proceed. Once the light turns green, there is no turning around and going back to bed. Sitting there waiting, anxiously, I could almost distinguish the large cement building through the remains of the pitch-black sky that had sheltered the earth the night before. As we pulled into the parking lot of Canton’s hockey rink, known as Ponky to the townies, my heart began to race. I begged my father one last time not to force me into the rink that tortured me every Sunday morning at 6 a.m., but I only found myself lugging my bag through the door, the bitter cold stinging my face immediately upon entrance.
The locker room was frantic. It seemed everyone, all sixteen 12 and 13 year olds, were excited to play in this morning’s championship game against Duxbury, besides me. I despised being yanked out of bed so early; I despised being cold; and I despised that the snack bar was always out of blue raspberry slush. Not to mention, Duxbury was known to have the best girls youth hockey program in the state. But just like the rest of the team, I laced up my skates, pulled my white jersey over my head, and stepped onto the ice. Just an hour later, I stepped off — this time with a trophy in my hand. We had just beaten Duxbury. I can still hear the victorious screams in my head today.
Several years later, in high school, the same 16 girls with queasy stomachs walked into that same rink. Once again nervous but fairly excited to play Duxbury High School’s practically unbeatable girls hockey team. Just three short periods later, we again stepped off the ice as the winning team. The feeling was exhilarating. I guess history does have a way of repeating itself.
A tragedy occurred just weeks after our win. Ponky, the rink I had grown up in my entire life, had collapsed due to the severe weather conditions. The community lost an extraordinary landmark, but I lost a piece of my childhood that day. The rink will one day be rebuilt, but never again will I wait for the traffic light to change color, this time in my own car, to play another game at the rink I knew so well.
My vision of Ponky was altered as soon as I began playing for Canton’s varsity girls hockey team. I grew a deep appreciation for the place as I matured and reflected on all of the life experiences that had occurred in that old rink with the slightly disappointing snack bar. My experience within the hockey community developed into strong friendships, hard work, and life lessons. Ponky became an outlet for me. My problems, concerns, and stress transformed into long hours of skating and perfecting my skills. However, I only now realize how the rink has shaped my childhood, and thus shaped me as a person.
Of course the community as a whole adored the rink, if not for the love of the game, then for the strong relationships and hard work the rink inspired in all of us who grew up there Sunday mornings at 6 a.m. I grew out of clothes, schools, and friend groups, but I never grew out of that rink. In fact, I grew up in that rink. Unfortunately, it was not until the rink collapsed that I realized how much I had transitioned, how much I had grown, in that single cement building. I lost the rink, but I will never lose my memories and the lifelong effects of my time there. Spending countless hours at the rink exceeds simply going to beat the seemingly unbeatable teams like Duxbury. I spent so much time at Ponky because it slowly, but surely, became a huge part of my identity.
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