I wrote this for someone special. A reflection on what hockey means to them.

Jim McKenny once said, “Half the game is mental and the other half is being mental,” and quite honestly this can be applied to all aspects of life, not just hockey. But in this household, hockey is important – really important. Some of the best lessons that has been learned have come from playing the game, watching the game, growing up with the game.

In this house, it is more than just a game.

Why? Because if you stop to think about what made you passionate for something, your mind would bring you to a place where you first fell in love with something so hard that no matter how hard you try you don’t want to go a day without it.

For half of this duo, youth hockey took up the better part of my life growing up. Between games, practice, training, out-of-town tournaments – my life was pretty full but I didn’t mind. There were even times when I was grateful that my excuse to get out of something wasn’t an excuse at all but my passion. I knew that I would rather be at hockey than any other place.

Hockey took my mind off of everything, especially the shittiest of days. It was my therapy – the only therapy I needed. Hockey helped me through my worst times, and allowed me to have some of the greatest memories. I miss the excitement, the competition. I miss the dangles, the snipes, the cellys. I would do anything to have that back.

Hockey was my life growing up. The rink was my second home. My skates were the only things I wanted to be laced onto my feet. My jersey was my favourite shirt to wear.

Hockey gave me character, courage. Hockey gave me hope, strength. Hockey gave me the best feeling in the world. Hockey gave me so much that I can’t even begin to list it all.

We are told not to look into the past, that the reflection alone would bring back a heartache that would leave us yearning for something that we can never have back. And, even though that is true, especially for me – the game I love so dearly was taken away from me in my last year of Midget Hockey due to a medical disease that wasn’t supposed to last but became chronic and it is now something I live with every day. But even if it is tough reflecting on those moments, the feeling is something that I will never feel again in the same way.

I am just happy that I got to live in those moments and loved it as much as I could. My message to you all is to never take something for granted, especially the sports that you play as a child, because at some point it all ends. Live in the moment, and always hold them with you.

My youth hockey career has been over for a long time now, but the lessons, the love, and the memories that I have will last forever. It is these lessons that I am now going to use to drive myself further.

Hockey, thank you for the best times of my life.

What moments from your youth do you hold close to your heart?

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