Playing Hockey: A Life-Changing Decision

Playing Hockey: A Life-Changing Decision

Four years ago, I made the decision to learn how to play hockey. And as dramatic as it may sound, it was one of the best decisions of my life. I think what is particularly amazing is that I actually stuck with it for four years.

When I was in college, I didn't stick with one major for four years.

I studied karate on-and-off since I was 10, but never stuck with with it for more than two years at a time before dropping out, only to come back several years later, only to drop out again.

Back in 2013, I wrote my first blog post for The Hockey Noob, expressing that after years of being on the fence, I finally signed up for lessons and bought equipment. There's no turning back now. And I didn't turn back. I didn't quit.

So, why was hockey such a great decision?

The first reason is that my conditioning is better. Sure, I'm still kind of pudgy, but my upper and lower body strength has improved. My back used to get a bit sore when I started playing, but that has gotten stronger too, so that is no longer the case. And I still remember how winded I got in my first-ever scrimmage; my chest felt like it was on fire -- and it was on a studio ice rink!

Another reason why learning to play hockey was a great decision is because it led to better things. I interviewed two of my coaches for an article that was published in a fly-by-night hockey publication. Sure, the publication went belly-up, but at least the check cleared.

I helped start the Heartland Novice Hockey League in 2013, a D-level / novice league for beginners like me. I'm the captain of a hockey team called Blades of Steel -- named after one of my favorite Nintendo games.

When I was 13 and first discovered hockey, I never pictured myself playing a team sport, let alone captaining a team to two league championships. Yes, it is a novice league...but championships are still championships. Over the summers, I run a moderately popular weekly pickup hockey game for novice adult players that live in and near Chicago.

Finally, learning to play hockey has led to some new friends that I wouldn't have had otherwise. The older you get, the harder it seems to make friendships -- but playing hockey with other adults is a great way to meet new people, break the ice (no pun intended) and make friends. I've been hooked up with Blackhawks tickets, invited to weddings, parties and other cool stuff because the hockey community is a friendly, tight-knit community.

I've enjoyed all of this because I made a decision to stop watching from the sidelines and get on the ice. And I am grateful that I made that life-changing decision four years ago.

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