The guys from G-Men are so engrossed in hockey that they don’t know too much about their teammates off the ice.
“It’s kind of funny, we were having this discussion the other day. A lot of us doesn’t know what each other does as a profession,” G-Men team member Dan Broersma said. “This sport is what brings us together.”
Hockey can do that to a bunch of guys who love the competitive nature and camaraderie they share with their teammates.
It didn’t start out as an obsession for the team members on the G-Men, who hail from Holland, Mich. The majority didn’t pick up the game until their mid-20s.
“The one-half that play with me, we started playing roller hockey in the street when we were in high school or middle school,” G-Men team member Phil Hoort said. “It turned into organized roller hockey and that turned into, ‘Hey, let’s do the next step. Let’s do hockey.’”
The G-Men members are now full-on rink rats, and that’s reflective in how often they grace the ice. The guys compete in adult leagues around Western Michigan, but generally skate on different teams.
“The only time we get to be the G-Men is on the ponds and when we rent the ice to play against ourselves,” Hoort said.
Broersma and Hoort are part of the Holland Adult Hockey League and play in the MOTHERRS League (Men Over The Hill and Elderly Rink Rats). Hoort skates for the Chasers in the Wednesday Night League and on team VIP on Sunday nights; Broersma plays for Average Joes in 40+ Seniors League on Sundays. The guys also play in the Georgetown Ice Center Adult League near Grand Rapids.
“All of us are friends, but we’re almost closer than brothers in some cases,” Broersma said.
When the guys are competing with one another, they are known as the G-Men. The team plays recreationally all year, but focuses mostly on skating in the annual Labatt Blue/USA Hockey Pond Hockey Championships every February in Eagle River, Wis.
The team uses the name G-Men for all its competitions. The name is derived from team member Gerald Keen, who got the nickname G-Man in the early 2000s when he started playing hockey with his friends. Keen, who is a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, wasn’t able to compete in pond hockey in 2010 because he was stationed in Iraq. From that point on the G-Men, who formerly were named the Dutch Mafia, decided to dedicate the team to Keen.
Keen has only been able to play in the Pond Hockey Championships just once in the past five years. But he’s hoping to play next year. Keen is currently stationed stateside and his tour of service is almost finished, so retirement might not be too far off.
“It’s for him and a lot of us have been in the military,” Broersma said. “We play for everybody that’s been in the military. He’s our friend and the inspiration for us. People that give their lives are the ones who allow us to do what we do tonight. That’s why we play.”
In 2010, in their first year playing for Keen, the G-Men won their division title at the Pond Hockey Championships.
There are 25 team members of the G-Men who swap in and out of the rotation. This past February, the G-Men sent two teams to play in the Pond Hockey Championships. The guys who competed in the Novice 21+ Division finished 0-3, while the G-Men playing in the Bronze 21+ Division went 3-1, losing in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
When the G-Men — who sport military-style camouflage jerseys — compete on the pond, they play a clean game and make sure they’re respectful to their opposition.
“You have to be a little more careful when you’re wearing military stuff out in public,” Hoort said. “The guys are a little calmer.”
Broersma loves playing for a purpose when his team is on the ice.
“I’ve played on both sides, and it definitely means much more to play for something — a cause or a person,” Broersma said. “It’s just a hockey game for us. But guys are putting their lives on the line. If we can do something to give back to them, that’s all that matters.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Adult hockey not only promotes a healthy and active lifestyle, it requires it. As adults get older, they increasingly need to emphasize regular exercise and a nutritious diet. There’s no easy way to go about it—but there is a fun, challenging and rewarding option that sticks with you for life:
That’s right. Hockey is part of the perfect prescription for an adults’ health regiment. Just ask Olympian and former NHL player Steve Jensen.
“Physical fitness is something we should all be thinking about as we get older,” says Jensen, a longtime certified USA Hockey coach/official. “There’s no better activity than hockey to stay in shape.”
Dr. Michael Stuart, chief medical officer for USA Hockey, says the positives of playing hockey are contagious.
“Participation in ice hockey provides all the benefits of exercise while building friendships and ensuring a fun time,” says Stuart, who is also the vice-chair of Orthopedic Surgery and the co-director of the Sports Medicine Center at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Dr. Stuart and colleague Dr. Edward Laskowski of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center sketch out specific benefits for hockey players:
“Playing adult hockey is a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun,” says Stuart, who also emphasizes maintaining a balanced diet. As for safety concerns, he adds: “The risk of injury is small in no-check, adult hockey games, but players should wear high-quality, well-fitting equipment, including a helmet and facial protection.”
The Minnesota-based Adult Hockey Association is starting to see employers embrace hockey as a health and performance benefit for its workforce. Some businesses are beginning to subsidize hockey registration fees for employees because they feel the activity fits the policy of their wellness programs.
“It’s not a lot, but we’re starting to see more and more trickle in,” says Dave Swenson, the AHA’s secretary treasurer who also serves on USA Hockey’s Adult Council and Minnesota Hockey’s Board of Directors.
Swenson wants this trend to continue growing, not just to see the number of players rise, but to reward players for committing to a healthy lifestyle.
“I’m hoping employers think about that a little more,” Swenson adds. “It’s not just softball leagues anymore. There are recreational hockey opportunities out there for adults.”
Hilary McNeish, a longtime player, ambassador, and current executive director of the Women’s Association of Colorado Hockey, says she sees the positive results in women’s hockey every day.
“There are so many benefits,” says McNeish, “but the quote I hear most from ladies is: ‘It’s like working out a lot, but it’s so fun, it doesn’t feel like working out!’”
Aside from the physical health gains, there’s also a mental side to the story that’s special to hockey players.
“There are so many positive experiences that come with it,” adds McNeish. “Being able to play a sport that so many deem difficult is also great for the mind and wonderful for your personal attitude.
“It’s great to see the looks from people when you can say, ‘I play hockey’”