She’s a keeper because…
She’s a keeper because she stands in the goal box and faces down the sixty-plus mile an hour wristers from the blue line without flinching. She keeps her composure and her cool when everyone else is getting flustered. She’s a keeper because she’s not afraid of getting hit by a puck. Hell, a puck would be soft compared to the hands and the belts she’s endured over the years. At least with the puck flying at her, she has some pads on, some protection. And some teammates, too, who might sacrifice themselves before the shot comes in and makes contact.
She’s a keeper because this is where she finds her power. In defense, in being that last line of protection. She’s done it for her family – always stepping in front of her little sister and brother when mom was too mad to control herself and started swinging wildly. Stepping in front of mom when the DFS folks came to interview everyone, and making sure that, as bad as mom might have been, they didn’t get split up and moved somewhere that could have been even worse. She’s a keeper because that’s how she sleeps at night, knowing that she’s done everything possible to keep her team, her family, her community, safe and in power.
She has no desire to be offensive. Even the word repulses her – OFFENSIVE. It offends her to think that she might do that to someone else – to hurt, to assault – to offend. She knows it must be done, yes, cheers her teammates on, but the thought of her own actions being the reason her team triumphed over another practically sickens her.
It is a fine line, a distinction she has not really been ever able to articulate. She wants to win, yes. She knows that winning requires scoring, which requires offense / assault / attack / shooting. But she has never felt comfortable there. Instead, she feels comfortable the other way – protecting, defending. Supporting. That’s what she does, and she does it damn well.