I remember staring through the glass at the White Bear hippadrome, watching my little brother play hockey. At the time, my brother was 5 and I was 6. Every year I would beg my mom to let me join. She just told me, its too dangerous, or too expensive, but I knew what I wanted.
Back then, I was a figure skater. I was a terrible figure skater and I hated it. So when my mom asked me just before 7th grade if I wanted to play, of course, I said yes.
I did a fall camp that year. I remember the first time I fell in all my hockey equipment, I felt invisible. All the girls knew how to raise the puck when they shot and dangle and score and there i was, rocking back and forth on my new hockey skates.
My first year, I played 12b’s. I worked hard, but I was no where near where the other girls were. Over the summer, I did another camp. It was actually in Grand Rapids (weird, eh) The only thing I remember from it was winning some drill for my team.
That fall, during tryouts, I got cut from the team. Not only that but the whole White Bear association. And yeah, I was the only one they cut that year. I wasn’t about to give up there though. I played for Mahtomedi’s 14b team. That year, I scored my first 2 goals. The second goal was in triple overtime in the state tournament. That was the first shift I played center, and well, I’m still a center. (Ok maybe it was the 2nd shift but whatever) I’m still pretty proud of that one, even though it wasnt a snipe or anything.
The next season, I was torn on who to play for… White Bear or Mahtomedi… then something strange happened, they combined teams. Which is like really weird, that was the only season they ever did that. That season during tryouts, I made it into the A pool before being cut back to B’s. -I learned how to play center during this year, also scored a few more goals. I was still pretty shit but I gained a lot of confidence that year.
My first year of u19’s~ all I remember was coach Denny and Kenny sending the whole team out onto the ice in the middle of play. Then losing the state tournament even though we were top seed.
The next year- I moved up north and played JV. I learned so much about the game that year. I learned about positioning and worked on my speed. I was either the fastest or 2nd fastest out of JV and varsity. I spend a lot of time at the Taconite rink- yeahhh
My senior year, i played JV too. But by then, I was starting to get sick (I hadn’t realized this yet) I stopped improving even though I was right on that line of playing varsity. I went from one of the fastest to one of the slowest. I couldnt keep up with anyone even though I spent all my time skating or running around. This was the only season I every dreaded practice.
When I moved back to White Bear for college, I was so excited to get back to u19’s. I was finally better from my illness and I just couldn’t wait to get back on the ice.
And that brings me to this year, I never thought I’d be one to stand out on the ice. I never thought I’d be the one the coaches send out on penalty kill. Hell, I remember being the one being sent to the box whenever we got a too many men on the ice penalty… it’s crazy to think 8 years ago, I wore white skates and danced around on the ice. I’m so thankful for what this sport has given me. It gave me confidence. I proved to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to (cuz im stubborn as hell) It gave me friends, like the best of friends that last a lifetime. It gave me a place to be when I didn’t want to be home. It gave me something to believe in when there wasnt too much hope in my world. It made me healthier and happier and gave me something to be proud of.