When we put our first pair of skates on, its all about the little things, particularly, all of the firsts. These milestones are what keep us coming back for more. The first step on the ice, the first time we fall, get back up, score, stop the puck… The list goes on. However, the more we develop, the less time we take to notice these unforgettable moments that have helped us fall in love with the game. They happen every day but we become so oblivious of them. By the time we embark on our journey at college, we become fixated on our everyday training, nutrition, practicing, playing and being a STUDENT-athlete. The passionate motivation that helped you fall in love with your sport in the first place get ostracized and undervalued because it doesn’t seem as meaningful as winning games or getting an A on a math exam. I promise you those moments are important. Don’t let them slip away.
“We sometimes underestimate the influence of little things”
– Charles W. Chestnutt
A short while ago, I was talking to an old coach about hockey and she said “Kass you need to remember all of the little things that bring a smile to your face when you go to the rink,” she continued on to say “the pregame skates, the pregame meals, the road trips, and the friendships.” The message she was trying to send across immediately made me think… How could I be overlooking all of those amazing things? They will all be recollections before I know it. Of course, the wins against big teams and even the upsetting losses matter and will be remembered too, but at the end of the day, the memories we take with us are the minute moments. They will be the stories we tell our kids one day.
When I was a freshman, my seniors and our coaches told me to embrace the journey because it goes by in the blink of an eye. I vividly remember rolling my eyes and saying something snarky like “four years is a long time.” It’s crazy to think that almost four years has passed since I first started college hockey. It feels like just yesterday, I was being dropped off at my dorm to start this new adventure. I am telling you, being a redshirt junior (practically a senior), it goes by fast. Last weekend was our senior weekend celebration for the original class I came into OSU with. You might be reading this, thinking “I have so much time”, I did the same thing when I was younger. But the truth is, time doesn’t stop for anyone, it doesn’t slow down or pause, it just keeps going and it seems to go faster and faster every year. If you get too caught up in the rhythm of things, you’ll miss the golden moments.
So here I am, slightly older and slightly more wise than the young freshman who rolled her eyes at the idea that time flies. I am asking you, whoever is reading this, whether you are a freshman in high school who hasn’t even decided on a college yet or you are an alumni somewhere who just plays the game for fun or watches hockey from time to time. Please stop, take a deep breath and pay attention to the little things. Pay attention to how pure the cold arena air feels in your lungs, to the way your teammates can turn your day around just by being there, to everyone around you who has made it possible to play your sport (and please, thank them). But above all, pay attention to every minute you get to play the game you love. Because before you know it, the locker room, the bench, the road trips, the celebrations, the ice and all the firsts, will just be a faint memory you wish you could rewind.
Be silly with your team, make mistakes and learn from them, win and lose games and embrace all the moments you don’t think matter, because they do. They matter more than the awards and accolades.
Most of all, play for her. Play for the little girl that put on hockey skates and fell in love with the game. Play for the little girl who wasn’t afraid to fail. Play for the little girl who wasn’t afraid to try new things. Play for the little girl who fell in love with all the little things that make our game so incredible. Play for her because she did this for you.
Look at your teammates to the right and left of you, they won’t always be there, especially the seniors, play for them.
“Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back… play for her.”
– Mia Hamm