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A Game I've Never Even Played Before

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At a young age of two years old, I was introduced into a whole new world, a world where every time I entered my body was hit with a cold blast, where the sounds of sticks hitting ice were welcomed and the smell of winter was always present. A world where every time I entered it caused an ear to ear grin to appear across my face. But the first time I entered a rink I didn’t understand much of what was happening but I was intrigued, I wanted to know more. I heard my parents talk to my brother about something called hockey. To me, it sounded like a funny word, especially when people would pronounce it as “hokey”, but when my brother found out he would be able to start playing, his happiness was contagious- his eyes lit up like the sunrise in the morning, his body was zapping with energy causing his limbs to flail around, and his smile stretched across his whole face- which caused me to smile and giggle because when your only 2 years old it doesn’t take much for you to be happy too. Next thing I knew I was being put into my car seat constricting my movements causing a slight hissy fit to happen. The destination was unclear and I would have never guessed in a millions years the lasting impact that it would have on me.
I was taken out of the car and brought inside alongside my dad, mom, and brother who was holding a pair of shoes with metal things on the end. I didn’t really understand what they were but he was carrying them like his life depended on it. Next thing I knew my dad went off with my brother Dylan and I was carried the other way by my mom. We entered this room and it was really cold inside but it looked cool because of how there was a big open pit with a slippery surface and there were these walls blocking it. My mom took me to these seats that were elevated and I was sitting on my mom's lap when my brother got to go onto the pit of slippery stuff and I couldn’t look away. He looked like he was having so much fun and I wanted to join but I had to stay with my mom. I didn’t realize it then, but that was the moment when I fell in love with a simple game called hockey.
Eight years down the road and I had just recently turned 10 years old. My life consisted of being at the rink with my family to watch my brother play hockey. It seemed like I was always there, whether it be for a practice or a game. Nothing new there. Which brought me to was  happening, I was at the rink for my brothers hockey game when I could have be at a friends house. It’s just wasn’t fair, every time I wanted to do something I couldn’t because Dylan had hockey. I was sitting in the corner of the stands pouting about being there when the there was a loud buzzing sound going off close to that of a tornado warning, signaling that a goal has been scored. Which brought me to a something else, I understand more about the game of hockey now that I’m older. I get the plays and I even understand why my brother likes it so much, but that doesn’t mean I had to like it. I have my own life, and I want to be able to do stuff I want to do and not have to always plan it round what my brother has going on. Parents were clapping and cheering like crazy in the fashion that hockey parents do; loud and obnoxious. I assumed my brother’s team was the one who scored because my parents were clapping and shouting with glee right along with everyone else. I hated being there, I hate having to always come to every practice and every game he has, I hate not being able to do what I want to do, I hate it. I can’t wait until I don’t have to be at the rink all the time. I don’t understand why when I was little I always liked coming to the rink to watch him play, I could have been doing better things with my life...
At the age of 13 years old, my brother had made a decision that would’ve made my 10 year old self very happy; he was going to stop playing hockey and would instead focus on playing lacrosse. Hearing those words come out of his mouth brought tears to my eyes and made me feel like my world was falling apart. I didn’t know that him saying he was going to stop playing hockey would have such a strong affect on me, I didn’t know that it would feel like I was losing a part of myself, like I was losing my passion if life, I didn’t realize how much I truly love hockey until it was being taken from me. I really didn’t want him to stop playing. I wanted to be able to go to the rink and have the cold air hit me making me feel at home. I wanted to be able to go to a hockey game at least twice a week, I wanted to watch my brother play, I wanted to be able to continue to grow up in a rink. I couldn’t imagine what life would be like without at least a hockey game every week and weekend, what it would be like not watching my brother play anymore. It all seemed like a foreign concept to me. I’ve grown up in a rink ever since I could remember and it didn’t seem like the journey should be ending so soon. A whirlwind of emotions had hit me at once and I certainly wasn’t ready for them. Hockey try outs had since come and gone and I was still in denial that my brother wasn't going to play anymore. It seemed though that I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t ready for Dylan to stop playing hockey. His coach had called him up to say that they missed him on the ice and really wanted him to come back. I was extremely happy hearing my brother tell his coach that he was going to come back and play. Soon after he was back on the ice and everything was once again right. It was at that moment when my brother was going to stop playing that I realized I had fallen in love with a sport that I had never even played before.
Now at the age of 17, my brother has since put the skates up and traded them for 10 more years of schooling to become a doctor. When he stepped on the ice for his last hockey game ever, it was a bittersweet moment. Tears clouded my vision when he stepped off the ice for the last time; every late night at the rink was now gone, all the road trips to different rinks across Michigan and other states was now over, all of it was over. I felt that I was losing a part of my childhood since I wasn’t going to be spending all my time at a hockey rink like I had been doing for the last 15 years of my life. It was hard to let go of being in the rink all the time, it was hard to watch my brother step off the ice for the last time, it was hard to be forced to let go. I didn’t want to let go of the feeling I got when I entered the rink, the joy I felt as all the stress left my body. In those moments it was only me and the cold air settling over my body like a long lost friend. What I didn’t realize though until that moment was what my brother had given me; he allowed me to find my passion in life, he allowed me to experience a joy so wondrous that it’s hard to put into words. He gave me something to thrive on, he gave my life meaning.
To most people hockey (a game played on ice between two teams of six skaters each, the object being to score goals by shooting a puck into the opponent's' cage using a stick with a wooden blade set at an obtuse angle to the shaft) is just a game. But to me, it’s more than just a sport, it’s more than the practices, games, tournaments, it’s my childhood, it’s growing up in a rink experiencing life's ups and downs, it’s finding my passion in life, it’s experiencing a different world where nothing else matters. There are moments in life that help to define a person, and or me it was hockey.




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