My mom likes to embarrass me by telling everyone that my first hockey games were spent hiding from the mascot. As a small child, a sports mascot is a terrifying thing to comprehend, can you blame me for running away and hiding under my seat? This isn’t the whole truth, but rather what my mom likes to tease me about. In reality, I was going to hockey games before I could walk or talk. According to my mom, I even spent most of my first games asleep on one of my parent’s laps. Perhaps that is why I am such a heavy sleeper; if you can sleep through the sounds and excitement of a hockey game then you can probably sleep through just about anything. My college roommates know this to be true as they have all suffered through my “the bomb is going off” alarm clock.
Once I was able to realize what was going in the games (and beyond the point of hiding under my seat), I began to truly appreciate and love the game of hockey. There is something palpable about the excitement and energy of a crowd at a Friday or Saturday night hockey game that is impossible to ignore. Through this, I learned that the hockey arena was like a community. You may not see the same people every single game, but you knew you could count on them to root for the same team as you and to see things from your prospective; at least in terms of hockey. I also learned that failure is a part of life. There were many hockey seasons that ended in disappointment; playoff games ending in overtime with the other team scoring the clinching goal, the star goalie suffering a season ending injury, or worse yet, not making the playoffs all together. At the end of each “unsuccessful” season, my dad would say that it was our last as season ticket holders and that we wouldn’t renew our seats for the following season. And yet, each season we did renew our seats as if the late spring and summer months allowed us enough time to forget the heartbreak and disappointment of the previous season. Life went on and a new season meant a fresh start with lots of optimism towards the season ahead.
Being a hockey fan taught me how reliable some parts of life can be. Growing up I knew that there was most likely a hockey game on Friday or Saturday of that week. If for some strange reason there wasn’t a game, then it was either the off-season or the team was playing away games. As a young child, I remember falling asleep listening to hockey games or post-game shows where every detail was analyzed and discussed. There was something so trustworthy in the voices of strangers discussing the team that I was also a fan of. This was something I looked back on fondly during college where I found myself surrounded by fans of teams that I despised (for lack of a better word). Going through college taught me a lot about myself, in particular how to be a fan of a team that everyone else hates. Coming home for hockey games or picking up my team on radio or internet was just that much more bittersweet for me as I was reminded of what I was missing out on at home.
Hockey has always been my go to when I needed a break from the harsh realities of the world. Spending three hours on a Friday or Saturday night at a hockey game means forgetting about the world’s issues to focus on scoring goals and driving pucks to the net. Being able to set aside any other problem or issue and focusing on the game at hand is something I’m particularly grateful for. As a small child, I didn’t know the association hockey would have with my future. At some points the relationship with hockey was a little hazy, especially when I was hiding under my seat, but I worked through my fears and built a life-long relationship with the sport.