An influx this season of new players, like Beetle Boy, has allowed the roadsters ample opportunity to recharge between shifts on the court.


Week 16
The pause that refreshes

Shifting lines breathes new life into game

by Jay Suburb

Beetle Boy likes to rehydrate his kidneys with sports drinks. Guy Called Mike fiddles with his equipment and frolics with his dog. Billy Idol peers intensely through the fence, focussing on his next shift. Paul One sweats.

An influx of new recruits to Sunday Morning Road Hockey has given players a luxury they've rarely enjoyed in the past; long rest breaks to recharge between shifts, and full lines of familiar teammates. And, say the roadsters, that's breathed new life into the game.

"It makes for a better level of play," says Paul One, a veteran of many seasons when spares were sparse and rest breaks rare. "You're not completely bagged, you can go 100 percent on your shift."

"It lets you go out and play harder every shift, and that's a good influence on the game," says sophomore sniper, Bird.

"It gives everybody a nice break," says Billy Idol, a rookie who rarely sits between stints on the court. He clings to the fence, his eyes carefully following the play. "It gives the guys a chance to recover and get back out there to score some goals."

On Sunday, there were enough roadsters for each team to construct two full lines. That's been the case more often than not all season. And, say the roadsters, that's changed the way they play.

"It's nice to have the continuity with two linemates I know," says Beetle Boy. "I think it makes for better play because linemates get familiar with each other, you almost get a system in place."

"It makes the game less complicated," says Paul One. "When you're putting your lines together, you can juggle them around, figure out who's going to work well together."

It's also made strategy important, says Billy Idol, as teams try to find the magic combination of offensive sparkplugs and defensive stalwarts.

"You try to have one guy on a line who likes to play back a little, and leave the fast guys up front."

"Everybody kinda knows their role," says Beetle Boy. "You want one or two really speedy guys, and you want somebody who can sorta stay at home."

But, says Paul One, mostly a team looks for combinations that work well together.

"I think you can look for a whole bunch of stuff, but it all comes down to chemistry once you're out there," says the veteran forward.

Teams are also matching lines as they try to neutralize each other's offense and overcome their opponents' defense.

"You can develop a strategy to counter what the other team is doing," says Bird. "You know what lines you're going up against all the time, so you have a better idea of what's going on."


Almost every roadster agrees two full lines for each team is ideal. More than that and players get restless from the lack of playing time. Less than that, they get tired faster.
"To me, this is the perfect number of guys," said Paul One. "It's a good workout."
"You don't have one guy out there all the time who has to play both lines," said Billy Idol.

Both teams started Sunday's game with two full lines, but the unexpected departure of the Living Legend half way through the game threw that balance out of whack, and may have had an impact on the outcome.
"All of a sudden we were playing with guys we hadn't played with all game," said Guy Called Mike of the late-game line juggling necessitated by the Legend's absence. "I think it took a while for us to click again."
But by then it was too late, as the undermanned underdogs were unable to keep up the fight, succumbing 25-23.

The Legend was forced to leave the game early to attend another function. But by starting the game, he maintained his league-leading ironman streak, which is soon to enter its third year.

A more auspicious streak also endured Sunday, as Hollywood's once brilliant career continued to fade from the roadsters' memories. The former superstar has only made a couple of token appearances at the courts this season, despite persistent rumors of an imminent comeback.
"It's just disappointing, more than anything," said Paul One of his former co-commuter. "He was a dedicated roadster for so many years, he came out in the snow and the rain, he was out on the darkest days, and it would be nice to see him out."
Or at least let the roadsters know of his plans, said Paul One, "so we could get that closure."
But the longer he stays away from the game, the less likely he is to ever return. It's the same pattern that's swallowed so many other lapsed roadsters.
"When you're out for a few games, you start doing different things on a Sunday morning, you start getting out of your road hockey routine," said Paul One, who's fought that demon himself in previous seasons. "It does become a little more difficult to come back."