Marathon Man

Fueled By His Love Of The Game, Cal Mees Shows No Signs Of Slowing Down On His World Record Quest

Some would call it a passion. Others might see it as an obsession. And more than a few would get exhausted just thinking about what Cal Mees has been able to accomplish on the ice.

Mees, an adult hockey player from Dallas, set a world record this past May by playing in "the most consecutive ice hockey games played by an individual" when he skated in 29 consecutive games during a 24-hour tournament at Ice at The Parks in Arlington, Texas.

But the records didn't stop there as he received accolades for competing in 552 adult hockey games in one year (2019). Both records have been verified by the World  Records Academy.

Like most great feats, his world record acts started out with something of a dare. Early in 2019, Mees was rostered with 12 different USA Hockey teams when a friend asked him what the record was for playing in the most games in a year.

"I'm a bit OCD anyway so you don't put that thought into somebody's mind," Mees joked. "So I contacted World Records Academy, who said the category was open because they don't have that many amateur records. They gave me all the parameters of everything I would have to do to submit it, so I just took the ball and ran with it."

While not as well-known as Guinness World Records, the World Records Academy has similar stringent requirements, such as passing a drug test, being subjected to a lie detector test, answering numerous questions and submitting mountains of paperwork, including affidavits from teammates.

In all, it took six weeks of rounding up the necessary documentation, including score sheets, rosters and schedules, which when sent via FedEx weighed 23.4 pounds.

"It was a year's worth of work, and I was so happy when it was approved" Mees said.

Through it all, Mees has played with numerous injuries, including torn ligaments and tendons in his wrist suffered in a car accident, not to mention various fractures in his thumb, arm and ankle.

"People say to me, don't you ever get hurt, and I'll look at them and say, '[Heck] yes, I get hurt,'" he said. 

"At the time I was 59 and so I thought if I don't go for it this year, when would I ever, ever do this again? So I powered through it and was using two or three rolls of tape a day, just taping off various appendages."

Mees said he never set out to set any records. He just loves to play the game and enjoys the many friendships he's made along the way.

"Anybody who knows me knows that I'm smiling and laughing on the ice all the time," said the full-time business consultant.

"One of the things I do with every team I play on is I try to know everybody's name by the end of the first period. And when they're coming off, I tell them good job and when they're going on, I yell out their name. And for me, if they're having a good time, if everyone's having a good time, it's even more fun."

Mees grew up in Bismarck, N.D., where he started playing hockey outdoors around the age of 6. He eventually left home when he was 24 and joined the Army as an artillery officer. He rarely had the chance to skate during his 16 years of total time in the service but has made up for lost time since moving to Dallas.

In a typical week he will skate in three games on Saturday, three more on a Sunday, two or three games on Tuesday, a couple on Wednesday, one on Thursday and one or two on Friday. He is currently rostered on 11 USA Hockey adult teams, which is a few shy of his high-water mark of 18 teams in 2019.

"I kind of had to skip last year because of COVID, but in the last eight years I started playing in excess of 300 games a year," he said. "It became something of an obsession. Everybody has something, and that was my thing."

And he is not finished yet. Mees has two more world records waiting in the wings, one for playing on the most ice hockey teams (90) in a season and skating in the most ice hockey leagues (33).

He is quick to credit not only his fellow adult players around the Dallas Metroplex, who generously have invited him to skate on their teams, but also the Dallas Stars Centers, who opened their doors and made it easy for him to play once they learned about his quest.

In addition, Mees gave a special stick tap to Chuck Buker, the general manager of the ICE at The Parks, who encouraged him to organize and play in his first 24-hour tournament during his record setting year in 2019.

"It was through his never-ending tenacity that he was able to make his dream into a successful reality, and has become an inspiration to have fun and go for your dreams," Buker said.

With so much support from the local hockey community, the 61-year-old Mees said he's ready to make new friends and go for new records as he plays the game he loves.

"I'll keep playing forever," he said. "I'm still a kid and have a long way to go."

Issue: 
2021-08

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