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More Than Just A Game
So what is hockey exactly?
It’s more than a game, let me tell you that.
Hockey is the ride to rink, whether that is for a 5:30am practice or a 9:15pm game,
In the snow or the rain, with the radio blaring country music or the car enveloped in silence.
Hockey is the pre-game jitters.
That nervous feeling in your gut when you see the ice,
When you realize that Oh my goodness I am actually going to play this silly game.
It’s the awkward silence beforehand,
The looks of pure terror some try to hide from their teammates.
But it’s also the pre-game excitement,
Singing along to music and jumping around half dressed in hockey gear.
Hockey is what “holds people together when other things, admittedly more important, pull us apart” (Jack Falla).
Hockey is the game lineup, presented on a whiteboard in black marker, it’s the team nicknames.
It is the coach’s pre-game talk.
The words of wisdom, the words of encouragement, the words of advice.
It is the dedication and love for their team evident in their eyes.
It is that moment when everyone stands, dressed in full gear, helmets and all,
And makes their way out of the room, single file, sticks clutched in hands, together as one team.
Hockey is the pre-game cheer,
The bellowing of team names and the sound of so many voices united together to fight for one cause.
It is the huddle around the goalie, knees bent, heads down and sticks in the middle,
Each and every person squeezed together for the captain’s pre-game pep talk.
It is the beautiful and brief moment of silence between the final cheer and the start of the game - because that is when the battle begins.
Hockey is the battles and scraps along the board,
When it is impossible to tell whose foot is whose,
When players leave it all on the ice.
Hockey is pouring your heart, blood and guts out for the people around you and the game you play.
Hockey is the goals, the top-shelf beauties
And the dirty ones poked in when the goalie is not looking.
Hockey is that feeling of relief when it goes in,
The real-life slow motion experienced from the moment the puck leaves your stick and flies towards the net.
It’s the doggy pile on top of your teammates, the sticks banging on the ice in congratulation,
The goal celebrations full of whooping and arm waving, maybe even a bow and arrow mime.
Hockey is the happy moments, of joy and success and wins.
But hockey is also the losses.
It is the tight 1-0 losses and the embarrassing 10-0 losses.
It’s the heartbreak and the tears, the disappointment and the frustration.
It’s giving all you’ve got when not everyone else does.
It is every single goal that slides past your crease and into the net,
Every single puck that was simply inches away from not going in,
Every puck that you could have stopped.
Hockey is pain.
But hockey also heals.
It is also learning from the pain.
Hockey is learning from your mistakes, it is picking up a teammate when the times are tough.
Hockey is getting back up on your feet, it is losing,
But then proving that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,”
And proving that you are NOT dead yet.
So what is exactly is hockey?
Hockey is being on a team.
It’s a learning experience.
It’s the good, the bad, and the ugly.
But to put it in simply one word,
Hockey is BEAUTIFUL.