Today’s game isn’t just a game. While every single game I’ve played over the years holds significant value and gravity, this one is a deeply nostalgic amalgamation of the many years I’ve spent playing the sport I fell in love with at four years old. How do you put into words an experience that goes beyond any rendition or feasible explanation?
For every senior out there who’s about to share this moment with your family, friends, coaches and teammates, I ask you to pause and reflect on your career. If it hasn’t already, a feeling of inexplicable numbness will nest itself deep within you, making the daunting reality of the final buzzer set in. The actuality for many of us is that our time as hockey players is very close to being over.
Today, I celebrate with my fellow Seniors.
The announcer will soon call our names, and we will be accompanied by our family to gather on the blue line while we gaze at the those who are about to share with us a moment in which we will never forget. But before our names are called and we stand in silence holding onto the feeling of overbearing gratitude, I want to share my appreciation to everyone who’s lead me here.
Starting with my coaches
You’ve all cohesively shown me the meaning of work ethic, being a selfless teammate and challenging myself every day to achieve goals far bigger than myself. Your faith in my abilities has lead me to where I am today, and I thank you for giving me this opportunity.
To my teammates
The best part about playing a team sport is the unconditional support, unwavering loyalty and the indescribable bonds you create with those who are as passionate and driven as yourself. You’ve given me confidence, guidance, motivation and allowed me to continue to fall more in love with the sport every time I’m surrounded by you. Thank you for making this incredible journey worthwhile.
To my friends
For those who play hockey, and those you don’t even know what an offside is, I can’t tell you how grateful I am for encouraging my dreams, understanding and gracefully accepting my incredibly hectic schedules, and for being my biggest fans over the years.
To my brother
I don’t need to tell you how much of an impact you’ve had, but your loyalty and dedication to my career have been indispensable and I wouldn’t be the hockey player or person I am without you.
To my mum
Although it’s taken you until my Senior year to learn what an offside is, in all seriousness, you have been the anchor to keep me humble throughout my successes, and grounded me through my failures. You have given wind to my sails and supported me in every possible way throughout my career, and for that, I will be forever thankful.
And last but not least --
To my dad
You are the reason I once fell in love with the game -- not because I got to wake up at 6 a.m. for practice in the freezing cold, but because I got to spend my time with my hero every single day. You taught me everything I know about hockey (including my temper) and have been my biggest support and fan since the very beginning. You have made my career possible, you have made this dream come true and I want to thank you for the years you spent allowing this to unfold.
So today, as I put on my jersey for one of the last times, know that I am thinking about each and every one of you. As any Senior will tell you, every day is a heart-wrenching battle between staying mindful in the moment and being overwhelmed with sadness that this is almost over. If I could put into words my appreciation, respect and admiration of you I would, but hopefully you aware of just how much you mean to me.
So Seniors, take a deep breath and cherish this moment for soon it will be nothing more than a memory. And for those of you who will be in our shoes soon enough, know that your career will come to an and in a split second. So enjoy every day, make the most of each and every opportunity and be grateful that you’re not yet rounding the corner because I promise when your day comes, it will be a day you wish you could pause forever. This life flies by quicker than words can explain, but if you live every single moment to the fullest, you will someday stand on that blue line and be filled with so many incredible memories and it will make this journey so fulfilled and beyond worthwhile.
Tonight isn’t just a game, tonight is a moment in time that I am so proud and humbled to share with you all.
To everyone who’s made this possible, today is dedicated to you.