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Freetime: Tim W. Laughlin, Sunburst Chemicals
If it’s winter in Minnesota, there will be hockey. Rinks burst with little kids, teenagers, grandpas, and everybody in between. Tim W. Laughlin, vice president, product development for Sunburst Chemicals in Minneapolis, is one of the in-betweeners. He plays hockey two or three times a week during the winter.
Tim started skating at age three and has always gravitated toward the goalie position.
“I played organized hockey until I was about 14 and then hung it up,” says Tim. “Our local hockey program was deep in goalies, so I traded in my hockey equipment and wrestled my way through high school.”
While attending college in Madison, Wis., Tim once again laced up his skates and donned the mask and pads. Friends of his were managers of the University of Wisconsin: Madison football team and they needed a goalie for intramural hockey; so they recruited Tim.
“Size wise, we had some big boys on our intramural team. Some of them could skate, and others, well, they were taking skating lessons for college credit,” says Tim.
Tim played for three years in Wisconsin and when he returned to Minnesota, decided to keep it up. Unlike his high school days, goalies are in high demand.
“I get random calls so I’ll show up and play, though I’m not overly social about it,” he says. “Goalies don’t interact with team members much, unlike the other players who talk with each other on the ice.”
Tim plays with regular groups on Sunday and Thursday nights.
“There’s nothing like seeing 40- and 50-year-old guys out there chasing their glory days,” says Tim.
Hockey is known (and probably loved) for its fights, but in these hockey games punches aren’t thrown often, unless there is a referee on the ice.
“It seems that when you put a ref on the ice, it gets the testosterone going, the game gets more physical and the fighting begins,” says Tim.
Even without the fights hockey is still a rough sport. Tim hasn’t experienced too many injuries, but there have been a few, especially a recurring one involving a favorite old goalie glove.
“The third time I broke my finger while wearing that glove, I decided to get a new one,” he says.
Minnesota is the “State of Hockey” and its traditions run deep in families. Tim’s son Charlie, who is just two-and-a-half, lives and breathes hockey.
“While we enjoy hockey, we don’t force feed it to Charlie,” says Tim. “I would actually prefer that he be a swimmer. Both of his grandfathers had statewide swimming records, and Charlie swims weekly. But, he prefers hockey.”
Charlie can stand up on skates, but isn’t quite striding in them yet. But that doesn’t stop him from loving the sport. Father and son attend Minnesota Gopher hockey games together. On a recent trip to the pool, Charlie spotted the hockey arena and demanded to watch a game rather than swim.
“The hockey culture is a great culture,” says Tim. “The fact that I have the opportunity to skate with kids in their early 20s, and guys in their 70s says a lot for the sport. In my Sunday night group, we often see guys on the ice with their sons and grandsons. I hope to be able to keep playing for another 20 years — as long as my body will allow me to.”
And Charlie will no doubt be right there with him.
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