When I was a young boy, my family took a trip to Massachusetts to visit relatives. One day, we went to an ice skating rink. After we all laced up our skates, everyone else but me went out onto the ice to skate. This was my first time skating, and I was scared of the ice. I thought for sure that I would fall down, and stay down. My dad and others talked to me, saying everything would be fine. Eventually, I stepped on the ice, holding tightly to the side boards. I spent a majority of time slowly trekking around the rink, while never letting go of the side boards. Then, I finally got the confidence to let go. And for the rest of the session, I loved skating. Even after I eventually fell down, I got up and continued skating with confidence.
Fast forward to my early teenage years, I began watching hockey after seeing my dad watch a playoff game. Watching hockey became a bonding event for my dad and I. The last game we watched together was one week before my dad passed away.
Fast forward to the age of 34. I decided that I did not want to simply watch other people live their lives; in this case, watching professional hockey players do their thing. I wanted to be a participant. So, I reached out to the local rink, and asked if they gave ice hockey lessons. Yes, they did. I bought used hockey equipment. And then, two mornings a week before work, I would drive to the rink around 6:30am for a one-on-one session with a former minor league hockey player. He had me do all sorts of drills: skating forwards and backwards, without the puck and with the puck, shooting. And if I did something wrong, he would sometimes tell me to push the goal to the other side of the rink as punishment. But, I actually enjoyed it, so it wasn’t really punishment.
Throughout my training time, I would ask my coach, “Am I ready for the adult league yet?” He would say no every time. Until one day, he finally said yes.
The Blues team had an opening during the summer league. I started the season at right wing on the first line. Although I had never played in a game, my years of watching did help in terms of knowing where to position myself on the ice. It was a hard workout. After every shift, I would come back to the bench winded and breathing heavy. And after every game, my legs would be extremely sore for a few days. I had a blast. Our team did well, and we wound up winning the championship, which the team had never done before. And in our next season, the winter league, we won the championship again. It was so much fun to experience. I played another few seasons before hanging up my skates.
Subsequently, I attended a four day adult hockey camp in Montreal. The head coach was a local university head coach. Two of his former university players were also coaches. Also, there was a former NHL goalie there who coached the goalies. This was a fantastic experience of learning new hockey skills, interacting with experienced hockey coaches, meeting new people, and exploring Canada. Beauty, eh?
Try something new. Step outside of your comfort zone. Be a participant in life. And experience the magic moments that it brings.