Hansen: Sand in the Skates
The Goalie Guild is excited to introduce you to our newest goalie blog. “Sand in the Skates” is the personal blog of goalie Kristian Hansen, who is fighting to earn an NCAA D-I scholarship from all the way in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Kristian was born in Calgary, but his family relocated overseas when he was four years old. You can follow him on Twitter at @K_Hansen95 and follow his blog as he sheds light on his life in Dubai!
Growing up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, you wouldn’t expect anyone to become a hockey player. But after being born in Calgary, Alberta, my dad found a better job in Dubai with the airline industry, so at age four, my family and I packed up shop and moved to the middle of nowhere.
While I was growing up, just like kids in North America, I played road hockey for hours. But instead of being interrupted by cars and rain, the only things that kept us from playing were sandstorms. Even with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius in the middle of the day, we’d be out there playing.
If I were to have grown up in a different neighborhood, I wouldn’t be the hockey player I am today. It might surprise you, but die-hard hockey fans surround me, from the Flyers fan down the street to Bruins fans next door, all tied together by the Colorado and Vancouver guys right down the ally. We all love the game and we play it religiously.
My obsession with the sport started when my team, the Calgary Flames, made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004. I stayed home from school every day there was a game. Even though I was only six years old at the time, my dad and I woke up every morning at 4:00 a.m. to watch the games. At that point, the only hockey you could watch in Dubai was the Stanley Cup playoffs, so it was finally a chance to see some hockey, and I quickly fell in love with the game.
Living under the sun all year round provides the option to play outside all year round. It also gives me the option to train hard all year round. Our summer is like North America’s winter, in a sense. It is so hot that by the time you walk to your car, you’re drenched from head to toe in a thick layer of sweat. With highs of 47-50 degrees Celsius, you’ll just end up staying inside, much like the bitter frost that forms on your face during a Canadian winter.My coach once told me, “You’re out here in the middle of nowhere from a hockey player’s point of view, might as well be fitter then the boys back home. That’s the only way you’ve got a chance at the bigger leagues.”
Last night, I said goodbye to that coach as he left the arena for the last time, back to Canada for good. On the way out he told me, “Hope to see you on TV some day.”
I took that remark with a lot of confidence. I know all my coaches believe that someone might come out of the “sand trap”.
If you’ve ever had to live by the saying “earn your ice time”, then you can relate to living in Dubai. The ice time is limited, you have to play to impress. The more people you impress, the more ice time you’ll get. Everybody automatically gets two sessions per week. If you’re asked to join the men, then you get 3-to-4. If you end up playing on our Under-20 team, then you get five sessions.
The mornings are full of hockey, and if you’re not in school that week, then you can have up to eight. If you’re not at your athletic 110-percent, then you’ll never make it further then playing recreational level hockey. That’s what everybody keeps telling me, and that’s what I’m working on right now.
With the amazing facilities at The American School of Dubai, My friends Chris, Rob and I have the opportunity to train with the highest-class equipment. Everyday I look forward to it; it’s a mega-stress releaser. Knowing it’s improving my game just sets up my mental aptitude. When there isn’t a big game that night, then you can find Chris and I in that weight room.
My goal is to play NCAA D-1 hockey. Is it a reach? Yes it is. Is it possible? Yes it is. With all my coaches at my side and my dad always with me at every important game, I’m going to be the first goalie to come out of the Middle East and continue on in competitive hockey.
Along the way, I look forward to sharing my hockey experiences and lifestyle in Dubai with The Goalie Guild’s readers and RSS subscribers.
“Sand in the Skates” is the personal blog of goalie Kristian Hansen, who is fighting to earn an NCAA D-I scholarship from all the way in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Kristian was born in Calgary, but his family relocated overseas when he was four years old. You can follow him on Twitter at @K_Hansen95 and follow his blog as he sheds light on his life in Dubai!