Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What do you call it?

I use this little corner of the interwebs to draw attention to people, stories, et cetera that I believe others would benefit from knowing about. In the past two years, I've written my two cents about volunteering at huge bike races, the local cycling scene, play-by-play of races I've attended, doping cases of some of my heroes and former heroes, and a lot of other subjects.

So, since I'm writer and maintainer here at VeloGirl, I'm writing an absolutely shameless plug for a local non-profit organization I deem worthy of such an honor: Twin Cities Robert Emmets Hurling Club.
I suppose this will require some explanation.

Despite what you may have gathered from this blog, I do a lot of stuff that has little to do with cycling. I write (of course), devour Victorian-era mystery novels, enjoy action movies with friends, sing with the music in my car, and run around on a soccer pitch with a three foot piece of Irish ash in my hands chasing a leather ball in all sorts of weather [playing hurling], among other things.

We have a fairly large Irish community in the Twin Cities metro area and one thing that binds a community is their sport. The Gaelic game of hurling is approximately 2,000 years old and has been played in one form or another in Ireland all that time. The way I describe the game to the uninitiated (and they are numerous) is it looks like a combination of field hockey and lacrosse, but quicker and with less padding (helmets are required, cleats are highly recommended, and shin-guards are optional). A lot of American players have backgrounds in lacrosse, soccer, ice hockey, baseball, and golf to name a few.

I fell in love with hurling two summers ago while walking around a park in Saint Paul. A bunch of people were running around a makeshift field with what looked like axe handles, knocking into each other and smacking what looked like a baseball around. I was intrigued and was allowed to "puck around" on the field after the game was finished. Uh oh. I kept the game in mind when I visited Ireland this past spring and even commandeered our house's television to watch an inter-county match between Galway and Cork, over the groans of my family. I was determined to put some serious thought into playing the game when I got back.

The game is gaining popularity outside Ireland in England, Australia, the United States and is primarily, but not exclusively by Irish immigrants and people with a love for and/or connections to their Irish communities. Games are usually played on a soccer pitch with temporary up-rights attached to the goalposts, as true hurling pitches are curiously hard to find in the US.

Our local hurling club, the Robert Emmets (so named for an Irish patriot) is a 501(c)(3) organization, meaning they're non-profit. They subsist totally on donations from sponsoring companies and dues and equipment fees paid by playing members. Granted, there isn't a lot of equipment, but playing field fees are expensive and the club does travel out of state in the summer to regional tournaments and Nationals.

Anyway, today is Give to the Max Day through giveMN.org and some companies are matching donations to certain organizations. If you are so inclined, click on this link and give. Any amount is greatly appreciated and will be hoisted onto our shoulders. Come check out a match in the spring once the snow melts and the club is allowed back on the pitch.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

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