So, she decided to give herself some ice time. The fact that all she could do on skates was go forwards and backwards didn’t stop her. She started by attending some clinics.
“It was wonderful even though I was sitting on my rear end 90 percent of the time,” she recalled. “It was fun.”
She quickly joined an NM Hockey league team and now, 16 months later, she’s a devoted player.
Joe Hanson, league founder and commissioner, is hoping to attract more new players like Gomez. He has planned a series of free adult clinics next month to introduce newcomers to the game.
“Many adults feel that they can’t do it because it’s too dangerous,” Hanson said. “That’s really a misconception. … I think there’s some room to educate people.”
NM Hockey is a co-ed, no-check league. That means there’s none of the rough hitting that’s so commonly associated with professional hockey.
The clinics are designed as a low-stress way for people to get a taste of NM Hockey without having to buy any equipment. Hanson will have loaner helmets, gloves, sticks and skates available, and people can attend one session free before the league begins its new season in January.
The league currently has about 220 players ranging in age from 18 to 75, Hanson said. Teams are organized into five divisions by experience and skill-level. They range from people who have never skated before to ex-Scorpions players.
“It’s a pretty big learning curve, but it’s amazing how quickly players come up,” Hanson said, adding that newcomers can go from barely being able to stand on the ice to skating, stopping and turning fairly well in just one or two months.
Gomez, 45, learned quickly but continues to attend regular skills clinics to improve her technique, and said she has found the other players to be very patient and helpful.
“They were so amazing at supporting me,” she said. “It was just such a pleasant environment to be out there. … It’s just for fun. It’s really not about winning or losing.”
NM Hockey offers Wednesday evening clinics several times a month for $15 a session.
Hanson recommends players start out as substitutes before joining a team.
“That’s generally where I like to see players start,” he said.
Substitutes pay $15 a game to fill in. Regular players pay $460 for each six-month season.
The sport can get expensive because the league must rent time on the ice and because the cost of equipment can add up, Hanson said.
“It isn’t cheap,” Gomez agreed, but added that it’s possible to pick up used equipment or get good deals online.