If you think being middle-aged, overweight, and having zero experience in a sport should be deterrents to becoming a hockey player, you’re about to be proven wrong. John Moores’ true quest to become an ice hockey player began at age 45, weighing 388 pounds and having no idea how to ice skate.
Two years later, John has lost 62 pounds, is captain of his amateur hockey team, and has his sights set on jumping out of a plane.
But there’s so much more to John’s story than just becoming an athlete. It’s also about what impact that journey has made in his life off the ice as well.
A 30-Year Sports Hiatus
As a kid growing up in Massachusetts, John dabbled in different sports. He played a lot of street hockey, and even back then, he had aspirations to play ice hockey.
So, John stocked up on all the gear he’d need and was fired up to play ice hockey. Except there were a few roadblocks in John’s way. He didn’t know how to ice skate. Nor did he know anywhere that taught ice skating lessons to thirteen-year-olds. Nor did he have a license to drive to the rink that wasn’t super close to home.
Feeling defeated, John put his dreams of playing hockey aside for the next 30+ years.
Around that same time, John quit the idea of being an athlete altogether, and life moved on. Playing sports got put on ice.
Not All Athletes Are Born. Some Are Made As Adults.
A couple of years ago, John found himself thinking about playing ice hockey once again. Now in his forties, married, and living in Atlanta, John’s spark for ice hockey reignited while taking his young daughter to figure skating lessons.
Since he was at the ice rink a few days a week anyway, John told himself there was no excuse for him not to fulfill his dream of learning how to ice skate. Especially when there were signs all around him to spur him on. Literal signs. The first of those signs was a “Learn to Skate” class sign.
John eagerly enrolled in the class. But he wasn’t alone. Another one of the dads from the rink joined him. So, at 45 years old, John learned to ice skate and was able to check that goal off his bucket list.
Next goal for John to tackle? Learn ice hockey.
John saw signs around the rink for the Atlanta Amateur Hockey League (AAHL), set aside any trepidation he was feeling, and emailed AAHL about joining.
“I had that fear of, ‘Oh, are they going to accept me?’ and the administrator responded with, ‘You’re overthinking it. This is for beginners who have never played before. We have a place for you,” recalls John.
That was a year ago. John has now wrapped his third season with the league. He became a team captain last season. And if you’re wondering what happened to the other dad John took skating lessons with–he and John played on the same team together in the third season.
“Finally taking the steps to play hockey over the past two years has been, to me, my greatest accomplishment in recent history and super exciting,” says John.
The Transformative Power Of Hockey Beyond The Sport
Fear was a big factor in holding John back from a lot of things in life. For hockey, in particular, there was not only the fear of not being accepted but the fear surrounding his size.
“Am I going to fit into and find equipment? I’m a big guy. I had to special order [my pants] out of Canada from a guy who built my pants custom because they were so big,” John remembers. “So there was some real specific fear starting out.”
John used to show up early to the rink so he’d have enough time to get those pants and his other gear on, which was sometimes a struggle. It was akin to a pre-workout warmup.
“Now, I roll in 15 minutes ahead of time, and I know I’ve got plenty of time to get suited up,” says John of the process today. “You get through those roadblocks we put out there for ourselves.”
While John is still in the beginner league of AAHL, he’s on the verge of moving up. He was blown away by how many different divisions the league has to offer, making it accessible for anyone and everyone.
“The great thing about the AAHL in Atlanta is the opportunity to grow,” says John. “I mean, there are so many opportunities that I had no idea existed. It’s just been incredible.”
Small things can have a big impact. It’s called the Butterfly Effect. And that’s undoubtedly the effect hockey has had in John’s life.
Of course, there are the obvious benefits of hockey, like improved fitness level and weight loss. But there are the less linear benefits, too.
Now, instead of being fearful, John embraces fear. That’s because John knows facing and overcoming fear can break down walls.
With hockey, John says it’s opened doors. “Like, for one, I’ve accomplished it. I put it out there as a goal, and I got through the roadblocks.”
Athletes Can Hate Exercise. This Hockey Player Does.
A common misperception about athletes is that they must love to exercise. Just because you love to play sports doesn’t mean you love to exercise (I’m certainly in this camp).
John hated the idea of getting up early to work out just for the sake of working out. But he had his aha moment when he realized he could turn physical activity fun by doing something he knew he’d love to do–play hockey.
“The thing that really inspired me was that I listened to Bob Baker’s affirmations for health and wellness. I listened to it daily. I find there’s a truth behind saying something so often that it gets into your subconscious, and then your mind finds ways to make it a reality,” John explains.
“So I’m listening to this, and one of the key lines it says is, ‘I find ways to make physical activity fun.’ And for me, at that time in my life, I was not active.”
That’s when it clicked for John, and the journey began.
Whereas in the past, the thought of exercise seemed like a chore, now John is inspired to do strength and mobility training with the ultimate goal of improving his hockey game in mind. And from a guy who hates running, he’s started sprinting so he can improve his speed on the ice.
Losing Weight and Gaining Confidence
While John didn’t necessarily start playing hockey with the goal of weight loss in mind, it’s been one of the bonus benefits. And he’s felt better as a result. So now, continuing to lose weight is top of mind.
“When I used to finish a game, my knees hurt, my hips hurt, everything was tight. I ached for days, and a lot of that has gotten so much better [as I lost weight],” says John.
Now that John’s achieved his goals of learning to ice skate and play ice hockey, he’s dreaming bigger. And he’s hyperfocused on things where his weight has been a limiting factor.
Rock climbing. Horseback riding. Tandem skydiving. John has added all these to his growing bucket list.
“Hockey has been kind of the gateway ‘drug’ into all this other stuff. Now I want to expose myself to discomfort.”
To be able to tandem skydive, John needs to get down to 260 pounds. His final weight loss goal is to reach 200 pounds.
Off The Ice
Another unexpected benefit of hockey has been the friendships and camaraderie. Of course, John and the other dad who he started his journey with have remained friends, but the circle has expanded beyond that.
Teammates would linger in the parking lot after games, chatting about how they played. Eventually, the players started meeting up at a nearby restaurant on non-game days to get to know each other on a more personal level.
Hockey has been the gift that keeps on giving in John’s life.
John’s Advice To Current and Future Adult Athletes
John advises setting mini-goals to make the big goal more surmountable.
“Find your why and set a goal, and start taking the first baby steps. Then, identify other baby steps to get there.
For John, his first goal was to learn to skate. Then to skate backward. Then to play hockey. His current goal he’s working on is to skate backward crossovers. His stretch goal is to move up to the Lower A league of the AAHL and start playing hockey more often.
Another achievable goal to set is to just show up.
“My goal is to show up. So I’ve achieved my goal if I just get there, and with hockey, my next goal is to sign up for the following week. The goal is really achievable.”
John encourages everyone to take a leap of faith and find a sport they love to play.
“The resources are out there. You’ve just got to find them,” says John. Fortunately, Adults Play Sports has made it super simple with our online directory of adult sports resources.
The Best Benefit Of All
John’s relationship with his 8-year-old daughter couldn’t be better. Instead of sitting on the couch watching TV, they’ll skate together and do other physical activities. She, of course, eggs him on during their friendly competitions.
How John describes their relationship? Simply put, “It’s incredible.”
If John’s story has inspired you and you’re looking for assistance on your own weight loss and wellness journey, John provides coaching. You can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want more inspiration? Read about other adult athletes here!