An Ice-Cold Lesson

Where It All Began:  I do not remember the first time that I put on ice skates, and I do not remember the details in playing my first hockey game; however what I do remember what was my first real true aspiration, and a true passion for something.  When I was about four years old, my father started me in lessons to learn how to play hockey.  At such a young age, I wouldn’t say that it was directly my decision, but I am thankful for the introduction to the coolest sport on planet Earth.  

Hockey has been something that I have cherished deeply my whole life.  Not only is it something that I have enjoyed spending time watching, playing and talking about throughout the entirety of my life, but it has taught me more life lessons than any class could ever have.  Lessons of working as a team, being accountable, and dedication to something that is bigger than yourself were all learned through the course of my hockey career.  More importantly, it taught me how to truthfully work for something that I wanted.  Ever since that day that I first stepped on screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-6-00-32-pmthe ice, I have had the dream of playing hockey at the highest level possible.

The Decision:   It was in the beginning of the summer of 2012 when I received a call that would eventually change my life.  After much anticipation, I was invited to play in a recruiting camp for the Northern Pacific Hockey League.  This was my chance, and I was going to do everything in my power to seize the opportunity.  

Tryouts went great, and I was lucky enough to get an offer to play for a team based in Wenatchee Washington.  As soon as I heard the news, I hastily deferred my acceptance to The University of Colorado, and began to prepare to move from my home in Colorado, west to Washington.  At the time, this was one of the most exciting and scary decisions I have had to make to this day.  It was a weird experience knowing that everyone I grew up with was preparing for college, and I was to move to a place I had never spent a day in my life.

The Aftermath:  Just a few short weeks into the pre-season, I went from an all time high, to realizing my dreams may have been shattered right before me.  In a complete accident during a routine practice, I was hit into the boards and suffered a bad concussion.  Although at the time I thought that it would simply be another obstacle to overcome, the team doctor deemed that I due to previous head injuries, it was too risky for me to continue to play.

I left the sport I loved the most, with a bad taste in my mouth.  A few days after my injury, I moved back home, and was able to reverse my deferment at CU.  It was not until school was well under its way my Freshman year that I learned an even bigger lesson, one on vulnerability.   I was embarrassed at first when I saw people on campus that knew that college was not my original first plan.  It was hard for me to talk about it, and to this day it is something that I still think back upon.  It was not until I was able to understand that life doesn’t always work as you might dream of it in your head, however what life is really about is being at peace with your past, and having the ability to change courses, and still put your best foot forward.  

7 thoughts on “An Ice-Cold Lesson

  1. Hello Robert,
    That is such a tragic story to hear. I can’t imagine not being able to do an activity anymore that I had been doing my whole life. Are you able to play hockey in any recreation leagues or are there any other sports you can still play and enjoy? Was the team in Wenatchee the Wenatchee Wild? I just spent the summer there looking after my cousins. My grandparents also live in Wenatchee. I really loved that area although it was quite a big transition from any other place I’ve lived.

    1. Hey Walter,
      Yes I can still play thankfully, just not in a competitive league with all of the contact! Over the last couple years at CU, I have played on an intramural team pretty much every semester. It is way too hard for me to completely give up on it. Since I am not on the ice all the time anymore, I have started to golf a lot more during the warmer months, and during the winter, I now have time to visit the mountains too. The team that I had affiliation with was the Wolves, they play in the same arena as the Wild, however they compete in a different league than the Wild.

  2. Robert,

    I am terribly sorry to hear that you cannot play hockey anymore, I cannot imagine how that news must have felt. What I love about your story is the positive ending. The fact that you are able to be at peace with what happened and continue to live a great life, is an awesome thing. I hope you still enjoy hockey in one way or another.

    1. Hey Jeffrey,
      It was tough for me at the time, however looking back at it, I am happy that I started college when I did. If I was to play out my eligibility in the Juniors leagues (usually 3 seasons), I would most likely be starting college this year rather than graduating this year. I absolutely still enjoy the sport. I have been playing recreationally while at CU, and I love being a spectator of NHL and collegiate games. It may be a few years down the road, however I have thought about coaching youth hockey as well.

  3. It’s hard to give up a sport you love. For me, the next step in triathlon would have been to apply for an elite license and begin racing professionally, trying to make money off of it and travelling to races throughout the year. For the past couple years, I had dumped all of my time and effort into becoming the best triathlete possible; however, success in triathlon was merely a byproduct of a hobby and not my main life goal; becoming a Naval Officer. In order to dedicate more time to working on development for my future career, goal, and dream, I gave up being able to race triathlon at a professional level. While I still dabble in swimming, biking, and running and wasn’t forced to give it up completely, I understand the initial loss of identity when you give up something that was integral to your life.

  4. Hi RJ, thanks for sharing your experience with hockey. I know how you feel since I went through multiple injuries playing soccer which ultimately caused me to stop playing as well. It wasn’t, however, nearly as detrimental to my plans as your injuries were. Im sure this must have been very difficult for you. Looking back on it, are you still as upset about it or do you feel like you simply went on a different path that was as enjoyable?

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