As I timidly stepped onto the ice,I faltered, and reached for support. The rink that was like asecond home to me had suddenly been transformed into foreignterritory; most likely because of my new uniform and alienweapon. My face felt caged in, as if those thin metal barswere not only meant to protect my face, but to cut me off fromthe outside world. My body felt heavy, my presenceself-conscious and aware of the bodies that glided by withease, and curious looks. These foreigners had every right tobe curious; not only was I a newcomer, I was the only playeron the ice with a long blonde ponytail flowing from myhelmet.
My transition from figure skating to ice hockeywas not a spontaneous one; it was a passion I had longed tofulfill and been contemplating for some time. Silenced by myquiet nature and fear of my parents' reaction, I hadsuppressed this secret. I feared their disappointment,especially after all the time, effort and money they'd spenton my figure skating.
Looking back on that ordinaryspring day eight years ago when I declared my boredom withfigure skating and my interest in hockey, I breathe a sighwith many meanings. A sigh filled with relief for a decisionthat had the most positive and significant impact on my life.A sigh laced with fearless determination fed by my drive tobecome equal with the males on my team.
For five yearsI was the only female on my team, and one of the few in myleague. I usually received one of two reactions: either aflirtatious "Can I have your phone number?" or the alwayscomforting extra check and punch in the face. When asked formy number, I replied with "in your dreams," or a mockinglaugh. In response to the checks and punches, I retaliatedwith the same force, just enough to lower the aggressor'stestosterone and ego a few levels.
This challengingsport not only helped me overcome my timid nature, it gave mea confidence and strength of both mind and body I neverthought possible. This self-confidence flourished both on andoff the ice, helping me to excel academically and socially, aswell as athletically. I began concentrating on what was mostimportant to me; I stopped worrying about what others thought.
My metamorphosis was triggered when I began playinghockey; I emerged from my cocoon to reveal my true colors. Theexperiences and situations, both positive and negative,encountered during the eight years of hockey have shaped mypersonality, values and future. I may never get theopportunity to become a professional hockey player, but theamount of self-worth I feel as a result of the demanding yearsis rewarding enough. Not that I would mind a championship ringfrom the WNHL on my finger ....
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.