They might be “antiques,” but they can still play hockey.
The California Antiques, a 50-and-over club based in Anaheim, Calif., has been in existence as a tournament team since 1997 and grew into a league sanctioned by USA Hockey three years ago.
One of the aspects of the league that makes president William Kalinyak most proud is the diversity of the Antiques’ players.
“We have several attorneys, business owners, a retired airline pilot, an artist for Disney, the president and CEO of the LA County Fairplex, contractors, plumbers and we even have a lounge singer,” he said. “The skill level of the players varies, but at age 50 minimum, all of our guys have many years experience.”
Include Zeke Guspan in that group. The 62-year-old works for Verizon and is a part-time artist who also has a passion for hockey. Guspan assists Kalinyak with some aspects of running the league. Guspan, who grew up playing street hockey as a youngster in Cleveland, said he appreciates the opportunity to play in what has become a four-team league that drafts anew after each season.
“It’s a great group of players, and Bill keeps things very organized,” Guspan said. “It’s a relaxing escape from the everyday stuff going on in the world.”
Guspan said he appreciates the camaraderie of the players, which is aided by their similarity in ages and the fact that an opponent one season could well be a teammate the next campaign.
“We’re all antiques with the Antiques,” Guspan said with a laugh. “Everyone gets to know everyone, and we all enjoy a beverage together after the game.”
That also goes for the three women in the league: Terri Gasseau, a forward on the red team and a mother of two-youngsters, Robyn Schwengel, a defenseman on the white squad, and goalie Tammy Cottrell.
“Tammy Cottrell is a very good goalie, and the other two women are very good skaters whose skills are comparable to several players in the league,” Guspan added.
Cottrell, a help desk analyst for Rancho Santiago Community College in Santa Ana, enjoys playing hockey no matter the gender or age of her teammates or opponents.
“While most people would not think a highly physical, sometimes intense sport is relaxing, I find it to be a way to get myself focused and centered, and the rest of the world seems very distant when I’m on the ice,” Cottrell said. “Hockey provides me both physical release and mental ‘time out,’ a time where I don’t have to worry about or think about anything other than the puck that’s coming at me. I find that to be very relaxing.
“The Antiques have provided an opportunity for me to play with people that I never would have played with otherwise. You find that you get a different perspective and understanding about the other players in the league, and you get to know them better when you are in the same locker room. There is definitely a sense of respect and sportsmanship within the league. It is not uncommon for a player to say ‘nice save,’ or for a goalie to compliment a player on a shot or move during the game.”
Competition still brings out the best in players, no matter their gender or age, as Jim Henwood would attest.
“When you’re 66 and still playing hockey it’s a good thing,” Henwood said, confessing he turns 67 in mid-September. “And once you get on the ice anything goes.”
Henwood said playing for the Antiques has forced him, to some extent, to stay in shape in order to deal with the rigors of one of the toughest sports around and still be able to function afterwards.
“You have to be ready to play,” Henwood said. “But at the same time you still have to go to work the next day.”
This group of Antiques may be aging, but Henwood said they still play at a high level.
“Many times we have taken off our helmets and people are surprised at our age,” he added.
These Antiques, it turns out, are valuable at any age and in either the male or female variety.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.