My days as a locker hockey jock
March 2, 2005
My friends and family — and anybody who talks to me for five minutes — usually suggest that maybe Kevin Wilson watches a little too much television for his own good. But Sunday’s NBC broadcasting was a little too much for even me.
It was professional lacrosse, with an all-star game, on NBC. How far we have come from the days of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen together, destroying any and all comers on the NBA on NBC weekend games. I honestly believe that when I’m in heaven, John Tesh’s “NBA on NBC” theme music will play on my whim, and no other John Tesh music will be available (after all, it IS heaven).
Instead of Jordan and Pippen, it’s a hockey stick with a ping pong ball. Professional lacrosse? On one of the four networks? I’m offended and speechless at the same time.
(To any and all lacrosse fans who may write to me talking about the beauty of the game, I’ll admit that the NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament is one of my favorite events to watch every year. But once you get past college, lacrosse games — like Ramen noodles — lose a lot of flavor.)
I don’t blame NBC for trying to open the country to some of the less popular sports, especially in a time slot that it could air infomercials instead. I just hope they continue the process to the point that I can re-introduce the world to locker hockey, a sport that lived and died in 1994.
With the National Hockey League in a lockout, my friend Thomas McNulty and I were looking for ways to survive life without hockey. Thomas found inspiration, and inspiration hit the back of my locker one Monday morning.
As I gathered my books for first period, I heard a loud clang in my locker. I peered in, and pulled out what appeared to be a hockey puck, only lighter.
Upon that realization, Thomas came into my line of sight and said, “I took a plastic beef jerky can and wrapped it up in black electrician’s tape. Now we can play hockey during school by throwing it into each other’s lockers.”
After wondering out loud if this was indeed the greatest day of my life, I got together with some friends to see this locker hockey take shape. By Friday of that week, we had rules, two eight-member teams, a board of governors, an all-star game and backup pucks in case the principal didn’t approve. (He didn’t.)
It was just like hockey. Goals were scored by throwing the puck into any opponent’s locker, and the team that had the most goals at 4 p.m. won.
The next month was sheer fun for anybody involved in Locker Hockey International, and sheer terror for anybody who dared get in the way of a flying beef jerky can.
Players would be very careful with their locker-opening, often checking three times on each side before opening the locker, grabbing textbooks and closing the locker in a period of 0.7 seconds. Even that didn’t guarantee that you wouldn’t hear a clang in your locker, followed by your opponent’s celebration in the hallway.
If it could have that much of an impact for one small school, imagine locker hockey broadcast as a reality show at some random high school, with prizes on the line for the LHI’s best squads.
All we’d need to finish it off is some theme music. Anybody got John Tesh’s number?
Kevin Wilson is the managing editor of the Portales News-Tribune. He can be reached at 356-4481, ext. 33, or by e-mail: