Paul des Lauriers has no trouble admitting he’s a bit “crazy.” He even embraces his nickname, “Crazy Paulie.”
And the nickname doesn’t come just because he plays between the pipes for his adult hockey teams. Nor does it come simply because he is among the most rare of two-sport aficionados: cycling and hockey.
No, his, ahem, uniqueness comes from his dedication to linking them all together. Des Lauriers loves both sports so much he combines them by riding his Yuba Mundo cargo bike from his home in Lansing, Mich., to hockey tournaments more than 100 miles away.
When he feels like sloughing off a bit from the approximate 255-mile treks to either Columbus or Indianapolis, des Lauriers settles for the shorter 75-mile trip to Kalamazoo, Mich. or peddles with gear in tow “just” a half-hour to his primary rink, Suburban Ice East Lansing.
“Crazy Paulie,” who describes himself as a stand-up goalie who is learning the butterfly technique, is an attorney who says his unique combination comes from a commitment both to physical fitness and the environment.
“I can think of five benefit areas: physical, mental, fiscal, environmental and social,” the 52-year-old said. “There is a synergistic effect too. One, my legs feel great. Two, my mind is clear. Three, I don't worry as much about fuel prices. Four, I am not polluting as much. And five, I meet new people who are curious about what they are seeing.
“Really, I am an extension of my parents, who always encouraged me to be myself. They drove me to rinks all over during the Arab oil embargo and the gas lines that went with it. They always found a way. When I played a couple of years of youth baseball and football, I usually rode my bike.”
Des Lauriers, who plays in 18-plus and 30-plus elite leagues with Pinball Pete’s and the Party Cab 18-plus advanced teams, credits his friend Dan Iverson for getting him hooked on cycling.
“From Glen Ellyn, Ill., we rode into Wisconsin once and to Ohio (city in Illinois) another time,” des Lauriers said. “Little did I realize trips like that would seed the idea of tournament travel.”
He’s certainly an inspiration to his many teammates, including B.J. Lentz, 31, of Pinball Pete’s and an eight-year friend of des Lauriers.
“I have to say the guy is onto something,” Lentz said, mentioning des Lauriers’ cycling trips and strict diet. “But most importantly the guy is just super nice and a real character … gives me hope for getting older.”
On the ice, however, des Lauriers can be a real pest for opponents.
“He’s stubborn and a pain in the rear sometimes, but in a good way” Lentz added. “He brings an attitude to the rink every game that gets everyone pumped up, and he shares his experience with all the young guys. It’s a beautiful thing.”
The fact that des Lauriers doesn’t act like an “old guy” helps him fit in with his teammates, according to Dave Kalix.
“We have more in common than people would think as we’re all just playing to stay in shape and have fun,” Kalix said. “What Paulie does is impressive though, and because of him I want to play into my 50s too.”
Another teammate, Jim Barrett, said des Lauriers is unique for not just playing hockey at his age but for still playing at a high level.
“We won four straight titles after picking him up after another team cut Crazy Paulie,” Barrett, 46, said. “He’s a very good goalie and one of the most unique people I have ever met.”
Des Lauriers, a humble man, credits hard work and perseverance for his success and longevity.
“It’s taken a bit of determination to overcome my lack of talent,” he said with a laugh. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner/Michigan State University