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Thank You Hockey

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Friends can be the best thing introduced into your life; but so can hockey.  As the greatest hockey player to ever exist, Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” This is a very motivational quote that can be interpreted in many different ways.  With the decisions I make, they can significantly change my life.  One of the biggest decisions I’ve made was the choice to play hockey. When I was younger, I had such a passion for chasing a ball and passing it to my teammates, then moments later having the bolt of confidence and happiness when that ball gets kicked into the net.  I played soccer, hockey and I figure skated. I quit soccer and figure skating, but something made me continue having such a passion for hockey.  My life dramatically changed when I was 10 years old.  After seeing my younger brother step onto the ice, gliding, stride after stride, the sharp blade of the skate cutting into the ice, moments later a black rubber puck hits the blade of the stick, then gets shot into the loose net, I realized that I wanted to be just like him. Crazy yet fragile 8 year old me wanted to play such an aggressive sport. So I began to beg my parents over and over to allow me to play hockey.  When I was 10 years old-- tall, skinny, innocent but confident-- I finally began to play organized hockey.  There were so many new faces at first.  But then sooner than later, those unfamiliar faces became the faces of my best friends. Playing hockey has lead an open door to making me a more social person.  I have met some of my best friends through hockey.


I walked into the ice arena, and the crisp smell of the cold air burned my nose as I breathed in.


I remember the first time I walked into an ice rink.  The cold air bit at my face as I walked in. I of course glanced around the rink--in awe--observing all the banners hanging across the walls and the bright red and blue lines painted onto the smooth ice. The banners were all so colorful and hanging high. I walked down the steep stairs, with my bag full of equipment rolling behind me, and looked for locker room three--since that’s what locker room my dad told me I was in--as my heart was racing. I finally found the locker room labeled 3, I softly knocked on the door because I was extremely nervous to meet new people. As the rusty, blue-painted-door opened, I walked inside to see nothing but blank faces staring straight at me. I walked in, keeping my head down, saying hello to anyone that said hi to me first. I awkwardly looked around the room, seeking for a spot to go sit at to change. I found a spot to sit, and as I’m putting on all of the smelly, passed-down, old equipment, there are so many new smells getting sucked into my nose. The horrific smell of sweaty equipment filling the room, the sweat filled skates getting put on, and the body odor all made me rethink this decision of playing hockey.


I just got yelled at during a game, while I was sitting on a creaky old bench, for laughing.


A few years later, I started playing high school hockey. High school hockey is where I truly found myself. During the past 3 years of highschool hockey, I have significantly changed as a person and a hockey player. I have made so many great friends in the 7 years I’ve played hockey, but most of the friends I made were during those, few but long, high school seasons.


Ouch.


During one of my High school games, I was playing really amazing, to the point where I was too good. I felt as if I was carrying the whole team on my back. My mind and body were way too focused in the game. I snap out of it and hear my coach screaming my name across the full bench of players, “Sam! Sam! Get over here right away!”. As I try squeezing myself through the sweaty, smelly hockey girls, I have this feeling of embarrassment, thinking I did something terribly wrong for my coach to call me over by him. My heart was racing; both from the hard shift I just came off from and the fact that 20 eyes were watching my every move. As soon as I get to my coach, he pulls me over and tells me to go out on the ice as soon as one of the players gets off. Immediately after he said that to me, I get pushed onto the ice. The black rubber thing, the puck, is sitting right in front of me, as if it's waiting for me to go get it. I skate as fast as my legs can go and when I get to the puck, something pushed me into the boards. Before I can look to see who pushed me, my head gets slammed into the boards, and I fall. Everything was blurry for a few seconds, then minutes, then hours. I tried getting up but everything around me was spinning, so as soon as I stood up, I fell right back down. It felt like forever that I was laying on the ground until I heard a whistle get blown--stopping the play--and moments later my coach comes over by me, “Sam are you okay? What hurts you?”, as I grabbed my head.  All these questions are getting rushed through my ears, but something doesn't allow me to respond because of the sudden urgency to throw up. I felt hands grab my 2 arms which slowly brought me to a stance; everything was blurry. I get to the bench and sit down. I look up and I see all of my teammates surrounding me, asking me if I’m okay. I got these small butterflies in my stomach because it made me happy that people were worried about me. As I nod my head--interpreting that I am alright, when really I’m not-- my friends grab my arms and help me to the locker room. They sat me down and helped me take my sweaty, smelly equipment off. As they finish, my dad comes rushing into the locker room, helping me get ready. Moments later I am laying in a hospital bed; my head pounding to my fast heartbeat. I look around but everything is still blurry. As I stare to the left of me, I see a blob of something that looks to be a doctor wearing a long white coat, and all I see is their mouth moving really quickly. I look around a few moments later and see some of my best friends surrounding me. They left the hockey game so they could be there for me. I hear the doctor saying that I have a really bad concussion and need to take a long break from hockey; my heart sank. I have such a burning passion for hockey it amazes me. I was truly heartbroken that I wasn't allowed to touch the ice for another few weeks.


Years passed since I first ever stepped onto the gleaming ice. Years passed since I didn’t know how to make friends. Years passed since I started playing that thing called hockey. I am currently a tall, strong, and quite confident 17 year old teenage girl who has the best of friends; thanks to the decision of playing hockey.






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