A Flo Tracys hockey game is a family event, McGill Residence surrogate-family style. The family is all here and they’re not the type an embarrassed teen could’ve casually pretended not to be related to, even if they tried – with supporters waving and cheering and hanging off the sides of the stands when the team scores, it’s a scene out of My Big Fat Rez Hockey Game.
The team, named after the iconic former McGill residence director, is composed entirely of McGill floor fellows, and the atmosphere at their games is an extension of that Rez family spirit – rez directors and Rez kids are like parents and siblings in the stands, and they fill the arena with cheering, even though there can’t be more than 20 of them.
According to co-captain and Gardner Hall floor fellow Beau Johnson, the Flo Tracys formed a few years ago, “when there was a complete lack of a D-league team as bad as we were.” The team, headed up this year by Johnson and co-captain Charlie Walsh, prides itself on being spectacularly unskilled, emphasis on the spectacular part – it’s all about the spirit, and everything else is a plus.
When asked how often they practice, Johnson laughs, “Never!” The Flo Tracy spirit, he says, is “fun and more fun – we don’t do it for anything else but.”
The team is composed of a rotating collection of floor fellows representing all the Residences, with a core of about 20 people. “If someone can’t make it, someone else fills in – everyone’s pumped to play,” Johnson explained.
“You just roll with the punches, you know?” said Vandad Pourbahrami, a McConnell floor fellow. “Sometimes we even get on the ice after the game’s started.”
The locker room is a party beforehand, as people crack open cans of PBR, yell around for jerseys, and generally get pumped. The team is big enough that they weren’t able to find a uniform set of jerseys to accommodate them, and they go onto the ice in slightly mismatching shades of red-orange.
On the ice, the team puts their all into it – chasing the puck, shooting and scoring, with lots of exuberant falling. The goalie’s main strategy seemed to be falling on the puck, but very little got by him.
A Flo game is a game of thrills and spills, a choice selection of artful falls: there are whimsical falls, in slow-motion, as two players crash into the boards, slip down, bounce outwards, and spin in place on the ice. There are jolly slips, with two players sliding past the goal in unison, gliding by the seat of their pants in hot pursuit of the puck. There are graceful, almost choreographed, synchronized falls: two trip each other; one takes a fall and the other trips squarely over him, while, down the rink, the goalie simultaneously falls over the puck to block it and a Flo player on the sidelines yells “Eat ‘em alive!”
It’s the product of the full force they put into the game, the exuberance with which they hit the ice (literally and figuratively). They fall as heartily as they score. Though to be fair, the other team did get in on the fun: at one point, one of the Legalize It!s, thrown off balance, went down on one knee while rocketing forward, sailing under the raised leg of one of the Flos.
All that, combined with the exuberance of the team members and audience, makes them possibly the most entertaining D-team to watch. A comparison of the scene on the teams’ respective benches throws things into perspecutive: Legalize It! players are sitting politely, looking all too civilized as the Flos on the sidelines are hollering, banging the gate to the bench, standing and jumping, totally fixated on the game.
Last week marked the Flo Tracys’ second win in three years, and as the final buzzer went off, the players streamed onto the ice, swarming the goalie, slipping and sliding with glee on the ice, even after Legalize It! had cleared out and the Zamboni was honking them off the rink.
Flo Tracy herself was there for the second Flo win. She was touched when she first heard students named a team after her two years ago, and thinks the team reflects what’s good about the McGill Residence culture.
“It lets everybody equally play, good, bad, whatever, and they have so much heart, so much teamwork. I really admire them. And look how many were there today – really wonderful.”