...And I was proud

June 1, 2009
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I was about 12 years old and had been playing hockey for as long as I could remember. I was defense, and I was a pretty good defender for my size and age, but never really got the chance to score a goal or have any experience in doing do. It was one of the last games of our hockey season, so we were all playing our very hardest, trying to end the year on a good note. When the game was finally over we were all upset to see that the score remained a sad 0-0. We all knew what this meant and knew what was in store for us. The winners of this game would be determined by nothing other than a dreadful shoot out. A dreadful shoot out, or at least that was how I saw it. I had been playing defense all of my hockey career and has never scored a single goal or even knew how to.

I sat on the bench as the referee came over to remind us what happens in the event of a shoot out. “Three players will be randomly chosen from each team. They will take turns taking one shot on net each, until one team gets more goals than the other. Does everyone understand?” He asked this and then skated to the other bench to explain the rules to them. Oh I understood.

I sat there on the bench trying to make myself feel smaller so that my coach wouldn’t look at me. I tried to sink back into the back walls of the arena. I kept a close eye on my coach’s expression while his eyes scanned up and down the team list searching for the three players that he would pick to represent our team. I don’t know why I was so worried I mean the chances of him picking a small, weak defender, who didn’t know how to take a shot on net if her life depended on it was little to none. I sat there thinking the famous words in my head “Please, don’t pick me, please, please, please!” My coach then looked up and said three words, “Haley, Holly and ...” I waited for the third name not worried the slightest anymore that he would pick me until the fourth words slipped out from his lips, “... Rikki.” My face immediately dropped. There was no way he could have said my name. How? Why? I quickly started to panic. I could feel my face start to heat up followed by the rest of my body. I begged and begged my coach to change his mind and pick someone else, but he refused. “Everyone will get their chance,” he said, “and yours is now. You can do this Rikki.” as he stared into my eyes with hope and confidence. After a lot of whining and complaining and even a few tears I realized that there was nothing in the world that was going to change my coach’s mind. I had to do it, for my team.

So I calmed myself down as much as I possibly could and after the other two girls took and missed their shots a took my position on the blank, cold ice, still shaking like a leaf. The puck was at the bottom of my stick and I knew it couldn’t stay there. I tried to block everything around me out. The screaming fans in the crowd of both mine and the opposing team and the players on both sides of me as I started a slow skate down the middle of the ice. I could feel every single set of eyes looking at me and only me. I was almost at the net and I knew I had to pull something off, but nothing seemed to come to me. I closed m eyes, shot the puck as hard as I could and simply hoped for the best.

When I opened my eyes I found myself crowded by my fellow players. They seemed happy but I didn’t know why. Did I do it? Did I score the winning goal? I pushed myself out of the crowd of crazy players to see what had happened. I took a deep breath and looked up at the scoreboard and read to the two big numbers left on the screen. 1-0 I did do it. I didn’t know how but I did and I was proud.





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