Hockey as a stepping stone, eh?
When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was play. It didn’t matter if it was street hockey, one-on-one in the carport or ball hockey at school, I just wanted to play. My family was caught up like many in the late 70’s/early 80’s financial craziness. Interest rates through the roof, job losses, houses repossessed. This affected my family as it did thousands of others. As a result, I didn’t get to start hockey until a little later than most.
My first year of hockey happened when I was nine. I had borrowed my uncle’s gear from the 60’s (I still wear the shoulder pads – they are mostly ineffective), I couldn’t skate, and the stick I had was a righty, and of course I took to shooting left. But I didn’t care. I was playing and that’s all I wanted. No question I must have been quite the sight though.
I stumbled along for four more years and then we moved again and I missed the deadline to register in my new town. That was the end of my minor hockey “career.” Five years of house hockey in three different associations. Might be the best five years of growing up, many great memories, many lessons learned, many miles traveled.
I didn’t put the gear on again until seven years later. I was at Queen’s University and a few friends and roommates organized some outdoor hockey at one of the rinks in town. I borrowed some gear and went along. I remembered then what I missed about the game, just playing, being around friends, working together, competing, laughing. We played dozens more times over the next couple of years, indoors and out.
When university ended and I moved back to Vancouver, I just had to keep playing. So I joined some pickup leagues for a couple of years and then one of the guys asked me to spare for his main league. Next thing I knew, the 15 of us played 18 straight seasons together. We all went from 20- and 30-somethings to 40- and 50-somethings. Weddings, divorces, kids, deaths in families, firings, hirings, we were there for it all.
It’s amazing what hockey can bring to a person in life. It’s unlike anything else really. I watched Eric Lindros’ interview with James Duthie and he nailed it. To paraphrase he said, “What other sport can you get a group of guys from all walks of life like Bay St. guys, realtors and plumbers, and put them in a room and they all pull together?” If you haven’t watched it you should go check it out.
When I was looking for a new job in the late 90’s, I had the typical stuff at the end of my résumé about personal interests and there were several points about playing and coaching hockey. Well speaking of stepping stones, when HockeyNow was getting started, my résumé crossed the desk of the person hiring, they saw I had sales experience AND the love of hockey, well the rest is history 17 years later.
Every single day I take and use things I have learned from the game into my work and personal life. Learning to pull together (just ask Lindros), hard work, goals, commitment, working with teammates that have different skills than me, learning from losing, learning from winning. I started at nine with absolutely no chance of making it to pro hockey, no chance, but the game brought many positive things to my life and to many of my friends and co-workers.
So there’s my story. Make sure to check out four more great stories in Parts 1 and 2 of our series, and as always, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and online.
Finally, we’re so excited to bring our readers another great Christmas Gift Guide, released in this issue, so check it out and then take a look at the interactive version online to share and buy some of these great items.
Thanks for reading.
1) Former NHLer Jason York Now Part of Kemptville 73’s Ownership Group
2) Where Are They Now: 2016 Player of the Year Owen Lalonde
3) Justin Sourdif Named 2017 HockeyNow Player of the Year for B.C.
4) Introducing the 2017 HockeyNow Minor Hockey Players of the Year
5) Peter Goulet Leaves Pro Ranks To Focus On OJHL’s Kingston Voyageurs