One day, like any other day, I was sitting in my 8th grade study hall doing whatever it is 8th grade boys do (I know it wasn't studying) when I was introduced to something that would go on to have a deep and profound impact on my life - Ms. Ringo's penny hockey board.
Some rules for the uniniated: penny hockey is a children's game in which two players sit at opposite ends of a wooden box made with retaining edges, pegs, and then a penny sized hole at each end. The main objective is to slide a penny into the hole at the opposite end. First to 5 goals, 10 goals, whatever, wins.
As soon as this thing was brought out of the closet every dude in the study hall took to it. We abandoned "Oregon Trail" and penny hockey became our new obsession. We formed the National Penny Hockey Association or NPHA. We had player standings, power rankings, regular seasons, and weekly tournaments. We even had a league commissioner. It was the most fun you could have at school outside field day. (sidenote: remember field day?)
Fast forward 8 years to an older, wiser, fatter, hairier, junior-in-college version of me. I can remember exactly when and where the idea came to me. I was sitting in my History of Oil class (a fascinating class taught by one of Ohio University's best professors. Take it. I promise, you'll thank me) thinking about the Columbus Blue Jackets game from the night before. They had lost at Detroit. It was a particularly aggravating loss because Michael Peca had a chance to score the tying goal late for the Jackets, but missed a wide open net trying to switch from his backhand to his forehand.
It was at that moment that I thought back to my 8th grade study hall and penny hockey. Then it came. My idea hit me like a tidal wave of epiphany. **** - Penny hockey coffee table Blue Jackets! - ****
It was such a perfect idea that it came together almost instantly. I found the board in my parents' crawlspace, old wooden hockey sticks collected over 15 years of youth hockey participation made up the dashers, and my friends at Visionary Signs were kind enough to print my artwork for free.
The finished product looked as good as it did in my head.
It wasn't until I was finished that I even realized this thing had a more practical use - as the basis for a drinking game. I took it back to my house in Athens and it was there that my roommates and I, through much trial and error, developed the rules to "Beer Hockey".
Beer hockey is simple. It's like penny hockey, but everytime you finish a beer you get to place the empty can in front of your goal to use as a defender.
So thanks, Ms. Ringo, for your penny hockey table, for letting us play with it instead of studying in study hall, for giving me the idea for the coolest coffee table ever built, and for giving me something to write about in the middle of the slowest month on the sports calendar.