"Keeping up with the Capitals"

Summer is officially here and for that last few days in Chicago we’ve had weather in the mid-nineties. It’s been so humid that I actually considered coming to work naked at one point this week.  Sure, I’d have been arrested for indecent exposure, but at least I wouldn’t have been sticking to my own clothes!

While I adore the sun, the joys of attending various fests around our city, and the wondrous playground that is North Avenue Beach, I find that my heart is gazing longingly at ice hockey.

I didn’t grow up being a hockey fan. I had always been a bit of a tomboy for sure, but I was mostly dedicated to playing football with my brothers and their friends as well as watching it with my family on television. I come from a “football family.” My brother, Brian Callahan, is currently the Offensive Line Coach over at Eastern Illinois University.

Yet, during the 2004-2005 NHL lockout, I started dating a man (it’s always about a man, isn’t it?) who told me in no uncertain terms that if we were going to date, then I would have to become a hockey fan. Being a girl who’s always up for new things, I figured, “Why not?”

Sure enough, when the 2005-2006 season started, my boyfriend at the time took me to my first NHL game.

Now, if you’re not a hockey fan, or, if you just can’t remember a time when the United Center was pretty much an barren wasteland, let me tell you that it was awkward being one of 5 people in our section at the 300 level.

I distinctly remember that I had no idea who anyone was, or much about the game for that matter. Yet, when the puck dropped, the speed and the physical nature of hockey got me hooked.  I became absolutely fascinated and I’ve loved it ever since.

In fact, I’ve spent the last year and a half covering a semi-pro hockey team out in the northern suburb of Vernon Hills. The Vernon Hills Capitals of the Great Lakes Hockey League (GLHL) is the only semi-pro league in the country that still plays full-check hockey (and just a side-note: if you aren’t a fan of hockey due to low-scoring…check out a GLHL game.)

It’s been an adventure interviewing the players on the team and detailing their quest for “Lord” Magnuson’s Cup.  In a way, I’ve been living out my own reality show….let’s call it, “Keeping up with the Capitals.”

So it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to any of you that I’m looking forward to hip checks, left-wing-locks and dangle fests.

Even though the on-ice action has stopped, there is still plenty to do off the ice.

In spite of the reputation that hockey players have, there are many who truly dedicate themselves to the game all year round.

Capitals Co-Captain, Mike Barnes (#22) has earned a reputation around his teammates for staying fit, healthy eating habits, and giving 110% each game he plays.

Pete Wisnieff (#30), one of the Capitals’ goalies (and, as this past season proved, their “road warrior”), told me that he was rededicating himself to his workout routine this summer.

It seems that a lot of sports fans only truly appreciate the product on the field, on the court, or on the ice, never really recognizing all the work that athletes do to prepare for each game and each season.

I decided to reach out to the Capitals boys and see if they would allow me to note their specific workout routines.  The Capitals' Head Coach, Warren Sundt, teased me and said, "Are you bored?! Carpe summer!"

No Warren, I'm not bored! Haha...

So far, Pete Wisnieff and Dale Michonski (#27, who also finished the 2011-2012 season with the most points on the team) agreed to help me out.

I’m really looking forward to getting their tips and tricks for staying fit during the offseason.

Maybe in my own way I can try to dispel some of the negative press that hockey players get from time to time…(*ahem* Patrick Kane *cough*)  and in the process, perhaps some you guys out there who are in house leagues can take a few ideas away from it. And even if you aren’t in a house league, a few fitness tips from hockey players may be able to ramp up your own workout routine.

Either way, it’ll be an adventure for sure.

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of “Keeping up with the Capitals."

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