‘Tis the season to acknowledge all the things we’re thankful for. While we’re quick to celebrate the people we appreciate during holiday feasts, it’s also important to recognize other sources of happiness and fulfillment.
Difficult for outsiders to understand, the game of hockey is much more than a sport and hobby to us. From our first time watching, to playing, to scoring, to suffering defeat, hockey becomes rooted in us. It’s a passion, bordering obsession, that becomes a life partner.
Through years of being a fan, student, and devotee we are eternally grateful. Of course there have been moments of disappointment and frustration but riddled throughout the journey have been countless lessons and unforgettable experiences.
Without further ado, here are 7 things we thank hockey for:
It’s hard to find another sport that keeps its players as honest as hockey. Cheap shot your opponent? Even if the ref doesn’t send you directly to the sin bin to feel shame you’ll answer for it sooner or later. Whether it’s the guy you hit or his teammate, someone remembers your number and they’re looking to even the score.
Make an ill-advised turnover resulting in a goal against? If you don’t hear about it from your coach immediately or at tomorrow’s video session, you’re well aware you and your teammates know who didn’t do their job.
Hockey can be unforgiving. Such is life! The sooner we grow accustomed to be accountable for our actions and reactions, the better. We’d prefer it didn’t take a two-handed slash or cross-check to teach us, but hey, everyone learns on their own accord. Hockey just happened to be a great teacher of accountability.
Work & Commitment
Maybe a few guys named Gretzky, Lemieux, and Hull had some god-given talent, but no one we grew up with had much natural skill for the game. Like those successful in other fields and domains, it takes a considerable amount of time and focused effort to compete with the best.
Learning to skate is a daunting task in and of itself, let alone skating at a level that permits confidence while handling a puck and eluding headhunting defenders. Then countless hours need dedicated to soften your mitts so you can dangle like Kane and snipe like Tarasenko. And imagine how easy it is to hit a guy flying around the ice at 25+ miles per hour.
But, after all that time learning to skate fast, shoot hard, and have dangles, who’s giving you the free ice to showcase your skills? If you’ve ever jockeyed with a towering defenseman for net-front position or in the corners, then you know every inch of ice is earned out there, not given. Thankfully, knowing how much effort and willpower created a scoring chance, these battles make the tough goals all the more enjoyable. This beautiful game helps us recognize how fulfilling it is to achieve something after an immense effort.
Simply put: hockey showed us hard work and commitment are critical to success, whether on or off the ice.
Teamwork & Roles
While everyone dreams of scoring end to end rushes like Orr we all quickly learn if we ever want to hoist the Cup [or whatever championship we’re battling for] we need to work together. Plus, we begin to understand the importance of varying roles required for team-wide success.
Not everyone is asked to score goals, shut down the other team’s top line, or win important faceoffs. In order for us to accomplish our goal of victory we need different teammates fulfilling different jobs… just like any good company or organization.
On the ice we learn that by leveraging one another’s strengths and working together we’re able to achieve a goal greater than any we could achieve on our own. And thanks to one another’s cooperation and support, we’re not only provided the opportunity of accomplishment, we earn the feeling of being an important part of something worthwhile. That’s irreplaceable.
You’re on the verge of being late on the ice and *snap* your lace breaks… Today’s ref is missing calls on your opponent left and right… A harmless dump in takes a funny hop off the glass and somehow ends up in the back of your net.. The list could go on and on.
Getting rattled and making an ill-advised play or allowing emotion to rope you into a penalty is never the solution. Regardless of circumstance we must maintain composure during all the adversity this game can throw our way.
Hockey, like life, is full of its ups and downs. Sometimes it appears the world is out to get us, and these are the moments we need to calm ourselves and focus on the controllable. We can’t control the refs, traffic lights, or the weather. We can control how we react in these moments of heightened frustration. Just like in a big game, we’re all better off if we embrace and battle through the adversity set in front of us.
When you’re on the ice nothing else matters. Worrying about a test score, significant other, or pissed off customer is simply nonexistent. Otherwise we risk injury and costly mistakes.
Playing hockey requires all of the mental focus we can muster. Not only are we trying to work alongside 5 teammates, we’re working against a line of opponents eager to take our heads off given the opportunity. And while the game moves at near lightspeed somehow we read and react as if things are moving in slow motion out there. In those moments we’re nowhere else.
Ancient philosophers and yogis aside, most people will agree this kind of presence and awareness is something we should all pursue. Nowadays it’s far too easy to be consumed by our endless responsibilities and commitments. Constantly planning or worrying of the future detaches us from appreciating the present.
Pretend you could be bodychecked at any moment or whatever it takes… but remind yourself to be present in your everyday life as you are on your skates. It’s a beautiful thing.
“Remember that time…” If you’re hanging out with your hockey crew you have no idea what direction this is going but you know it’s going to be good. Whether hotel knee hockey, epic plays, hilarious fails, team meals, past curfew antics, or big games we have days on days on days of storytelling material. I guess that’s somewhat expected when you grow up alongside the game.
These memories are cherished moments we’ll never forget. Of course our favorites are of the victories and fun times but we also remember the less favorable for the lessons learned. Good or “bad,” we’re immensely thankful for the slew of experiences turned memories hockey has provided.
From a childhood coach turned mentor, to your mini mite foe who ended up your teammate and lifelong friend, to your teammates’ parents who regularly hauled you around or fed you between games, hockey has introduced us to some of the best people we know. Between all the early morning practices, late night games, and tournaments 3 states away, these relationships are galvanized through the hockey lifestyle.
We’re not exactly sure why or how, all we know is we’re tremendously grateful of the game introducing us to some of the most meaningful people in our lives. The invaluable relationships we develop over the years are ones we can always count on through thick and thin. Call them a coach, teammate, or friend’s parent… we call them family.
Comment below with your favorite or what we missed