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My Winter Wonderland This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Stepping out of my car, I almost fall on the ice hiddenunder the freshly fallen snow. My mittenless fingers sting as I try to open thetrunk. I jump around to stay warm, almost in a panic because the trunk seemseither jammed or frozen shut.

Finally it opens. I grab my stuff and headfor the arena. The snow crunches beneath my feet sliding along the ice. As abone-chilling wind whips through my jacket and goose bumps spring up on my legs,I make a mad dash for the doors. After nearly slipping, I realize I might as wellget used to this because I'll be skating on ice that's just as cold.

Mywinter wonderland is a place where I spend at least three hours every day fromNovember through February. I may be there for my own games and practices, helpingthe 12-and-under girls' team or watching a guys' varsity game. It's a place whereI can let out my anger, aggression, fear and frustration, and focus on my hopesand dreams. The hockey arena is my winter wonderland.

In the locker room Iopen my bag and the stench of frozen sweat and Febreze hits me. I regret nothaving aired out my equipment after yesterday's practice. Now I have to sufferbecause everything is freezing cold and wet. I slowly get used to the smellyequipment on my body, and start to psych myself up for the night's big game.

I visualize myself playing defensively on a break-out and keeping thepuck in the zone when we have possession. I notice myself commit to a girlagainst the boards when it's too late, but quickly correct myself to avoidgetting burned, beat and skated around.

A breeze of cold air freezes mynostrils as I glide out. My skate blades grind into the resurfaced ice like a newknife slicing through a steak. As I skate around, my blood begins to flow and myheart begins to pound. Glimpses of past games flash into my head as I remindmyself to skate hard, never give up, fight for the loose puck, look where I pass,dream and hope. The school pep band plays. Fans cheer as both teams skate outonto the ice, but all I can hear is Coach's voice telling me to reach for thestars.

The hockey arena is my winter wonderland because it represents allthe hard work, dedication, sweat, bruises, injuries, accomplishments and memoriesgood and bad.

When a game is over, I usually wish I had another periodto prove myself to my coaches and teammates, but mostly because I love playingthe game competitively.

"If you reach for the stars, you cancatch the clouds. If you reach for the clouds, you get nothing," says CoachBoreen. This is something I try to live up to every time I step out onto the ice,whether at practice or before a game. Reaching for the stars is a struggle tostay positive, especially when I get frustrated with myself. To me, it means thatin order to get what I want and achieve my dreams, I need to set my major goalsup by the stars, and along the way I'll achieve my smaller dreams.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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