Some of you young goaltenders will begin chasing your dreams in earnest as you leave home for the first time to play Jr. Hockey. Several years ago, my son ventured to Pembroke, Ontario to play for the Lumberkings. His hockey dream ended last year at the age of 24 when, after several years of college hockey, he decided to hang up his pads and pursue other dreams. What follows are adapted excerpts of a letter that I tucked into his luggage when he left. I pass this along to you in the hope that it might be of some help.
May all your dreams come true!
1. Keep your eyes and your ears open and your mouth shut. Say very little about yourself and never say anything unkind about others. In time, you will earn the right to speak. First, lead by example and then with words.
2. There will be great days ahead and some difficult ones too. Life in hockey is a roller coaster. Just remember that every experience, whether good or bad, is something to learn from. You will learn much about others but most of all, you will learn about yourself. During difficult times, always remember that they will pass and there are always better days ahead.
3. Trust your training and your instincts. You are well prepared for the challenges ahead. You are an excellent goalie. In time, you will show your stuff.
4. Always deflect praise and always praise your team-mates. No matter how well you play, your team-mates have contributed to your success by putting themselves on the line for you. There is no greater calling in hockey than to play and sacrifice for your friends. Always remember that.
5. While at your billets home remember to mind your manners. Always say please and thank you and remember to clean up after yourself. In time, you will be like a member of their family and every family has rules. Respect their rules and you’ll get along just fine.
6. It’s natural to get homesick, all hockey players have gone through it. In time, it passes. You will make lots of new friends and they’ll keep you busy.
7. Always remember that your parents are as close as the phone. Call home often and remember that they need to hear from you more than you more than you need to hear from them.
8. Finally, enjoy every minute of your time in hockey. Chase your dream as far as your talents and good fortune can take you. Your Mom and Dad will cheer for you all the way. And when the chase comes to an end, they will be more proud of you for who you are than for what you have accomplished in hockey.