"Did I grow up dreaming to be a congressman? No way. I wanted to be the next Stan Mikita or Bobby Hull," U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley says.
The Carol Stream native, whose new 5th Congressional District includes part of eastern DuPage County, has spent more than four decades on the ice. Today, he'll be on a team of Chicago Blackhawks alumni and local personalities that will play a team of disabled Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in a USA Warriors charity match at Soldier Field in Chicago.
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USA Warriors at Soldier FieldThe USA Warriors -- injured and disabled Iraq and Afghanistan veterans -- will face off against Windy City all-stars in conjunction with the 2013 Hockey City Classic in Chicago. The Warriors Standing Team will play Chicago Blackhawks alumni and local celebrities, including 5th District Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley. The Warriors Sled Team will take on the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Blackhawks Sled Team.
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago
When: 7:25 p.m. today for sled athletes, 8:55 p.m. game for standing athletes.
The Chicago Democrat talks about the stitches, surgeries and hat tricks, and why he just can't seem to give up the game.
Q. How'd you get started playing?
A. I grew up playing on frozen lagoons behind my house in Carol Stream. Indoor rinks really weren't around much then, so I'd play hockey anywhere, in basements or street hockey. I played on the Glenbard North's club team, for the College of DuPage and Beloit College.
When I finished school at Roosevelt University, and went on to the University of Chicago and Loyola, I started hitching onto other men's leagues teams.
Q. Who was your hockey idol growing up?
A. Stan Mikita. I'm 5'7 and 150 pounds. He wasn't a big guy but he showed if you had guts and some skill, you didn't have to be a genetic abnormality.
Q. What position do you play?
A. Right wing, which has caused some laughs and confusion among my press staff.
Q. People joke that you have the scars to prove you're a hockey player. Can you go through some of them?
A. I've had five surgeries and several hundred stitches (from games and practices). I tore up the back of my head falling into a homemade net with a rusty nail on it. In a game for Beloit I got about 50 (stitches) at once. The folks who repaired me have done a remarkably good job. Some at the emergency room at Illinois Masonic Hospital have gotten to know me.
Q. What's your preference -- power play or penalty kill?
A. I like both. With the penalty kill, if you're hustling you can frustrate the heck out of 'em.
Q. What did you do with yourself during the NHL lockout?
A. I played more hockey. Watched college hockey and I watched the American Hockey League.
Q. So, how many teams do you play?
A. I play two teams, on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings in Chicago.
Q. What other lawmakers have joined you in the "lawmakers versus the lobbyists" annual charity hockey game in Washington, D. C.?
A. New York Congressman Brian Higgins grew up in Buffalo. We've lost (former New York Rep.) Anthony Weiner, who was a very good goalie.
Q. So, how has hockey otherwise intersected with government work?
A. When I was a Cook County commissioner, I once had an ordinance passed that if you read the capital letters only it spelled out "Detroit Sucks."
Q. Where do you keep your hockey equipment?
A. As far away from my wife's nose as possible. It's sequestered in a closet. I also have to get it out of the car as soon as possible. I keep a second set of equipment in D.C. under one of the desks in my office. I also keep a picture of the Hawks in Philadelphia when they won the Stanley Cup. I tell my two daughters it was the best day of my life, since I can't choose one of their birthdays over the other.