Photos From My First Ever NHL All-Star Game

Photos From My First Ever NHL All-Star Game

My star-studded All-Star weekend experience told through some memories I captured along the way.

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I finally got to cross one of my life goals off of my bucket list. Yes, attending an All-Star game was one of my life goals. A weekend full of fans from different cities, representing different jerseys and all of us with one thing in common, our love for the game. In this case, it was 2019 NHL All-Star weekend in San Jose, California. An All-Star game with a bit of importance because it would be in my home state.

Here is a photo journal of a weekend that I will never forget, and hopefully won't be the last of my long list of All-Star games I attend.

Patricia Vicente

There's nothing quite like attending this event without your other half that loves and appreciates the game as much as you do. There's also nothing like being in your boyfriend's hometown and having your own personal tour guide. And while we did get a lot of looks and questions of as to how and why we are even dating when we root for rival teams, let's just say that it gets a bit interesting when our teams play against one another.

Patricia Vicente

Do you want to know what's cool about being a fan of an opposing team in a rival town with the Stanley Cup in it? The fact that you can touch one of the most beautiful trophies in all of sports because your team has actually won it before. Unlike the host city fans that haven't been able to experience that feeling yet. Yes, it was great to be reunited with Lord Stanley because who knows when my team will win it again.

Michael Gutnick

Always represent your team with pride. Even if you are one of the ten fans representing that team over the weekend. It's even better when the name on the back of your jersey is the player people most people would never expect to see on the jersey. So, even if it means that I am that only fan cheering from the top of my lungs for our only team representative, then so be it.

Micahel Gutnick

A cheesy picture with a cheesy smile in front of center ice. I mean, did you really go to an All-Star game if you didn't take a picture in front of something that said so? Exactly. There's also nothing better than showing up an hour or so before game time to watch warmups, which is a tradition I have with almost every sporting event I go to.

If I'm completely honest, I think I cried a bit at some point during warmups. You reach a point where everything just feels surreal and you simply can't believe that you are actually living in that moment and that this is actually you are experiencing this. These are players you don't get to see every other hockey game, these are big-name players that you only see on television and when they are actually in front of you, it just makes you feel something special as a hockey fan.

Patricia Vicente

This picture simply does not do the sight justice. Listening to the national anthems with thousands of light up wrist bands lighting up in the nation's colors. It's a sight that I will probably never forget. And even though that wrist band turns on with every little bump, it will stay as a small reminder of me losing my voice from yelling at my team for losing 10-4 against the Central Division with my favorite goalie in net. But now when I look back at this picture, I will be reminded of the beauty of the game.

Michael Gutnick

While my favorite player wasn't in the All-Star game and has never been in one, I guess I can only dream of him eventually being a part of one. And it doesn't matter to me whether he's there or not, I will always keep on supporting him. Even if I do get weird looks and comments from people. At the end of the day, it isn't about how good a player or team is, what matters is the love you have for the game.

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn't sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It's obvious your calling wasn't coaching and you weren't meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn't have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn't your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that's how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “It's not what you say, its how you say it."

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won't even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don't hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That's the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she's the reason I continued to play."

I don't blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn't working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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I Wouldn't Trade My DII Experience To Play DI Athletics Any Day

I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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As a high school athlete, the only goal is to play your varsity sport at the Division 1 level in college.

No one in high school talks about going to a Division 2 or 3 school, it's as if the only chance you have at playing college athletics is at the DI level. However, there are so many amazing opportunities to play a varsity sport at the DII and DIII level that are equally fun and competitive as playing for a division 1 team.

As a college athlete at the DII level, I hear so many DI athletes wishing they had played at the DII or DIII level. Because the fact of the matter is this: the division you play in really doesn't matter.

The problem is that DII and DIII sports aren't as celebrated as Division 1 athletics. You don't see the National Championships of Division 2 and 3 teams being broadcasted or followed by the entire country. It's sad because the highest levels of competition at the DII and DIII level are competing against some of the Division 1 teams widely celebrated across the country. Yet DII and DIII teams don't receive the recognition that DI athletics do.

Not everyone can be a DI athlete but that doesn't mean it's easy to be a DII or DIII athlete. The competition is just as tough as it is at the top for DII and DIII athletes. Maybe the stakes are higher for these athletes because they have to prove they are just as good as DI athletes. Division 2 and 3 athletes have just as much grit and determination as Division 1 athletes, without the glorified title of being "a division 1 athlete."

Also, playing at the DII or DIII level grants more opportunities to make your college experience your own, not your coach's.

I have heard countless horror stories in athletics over the course of my four-year journey however, the most heartbreaking come from athletes who lose their drive to compete because of the increased pressure from coaches or program. Division 1 athletics are historically tougher programs than Division 2 or 3 programs, making an athlete's college experience from one division to another significantly different.

The best part of not going to a division 1 school is knowing that even though my team doesn't have "DI" attached to it, we still have the opportunity to do something unique every time we arrive at an event. Just because we aren't "DI" athletes, we still have the drive and competitive spirit to go to an event and win. We are great players, and we have broken countless records as a team.

That's something we all have done together, and it's something we can take with us for the rest of our lives.

We each have our own mission when it comes to our college athletic careers, however together we prove to be resilient in the fight for the title. Giving it all when we practice and play is important, but the memories we have made behind the scenes as a team makes it all worth it, too.

The best part of being apart of college athletics is being able to be passionate about your sport with teammates that embody that same mindset. It's an added benefit to having teammates who become your best friends because it makes your victories even more victorious, and your defeats easier to bare.

No matter what level an athlete is playing at in college, it's important that all the hours spent at practice and on the road should be enjoyed with teammates that make the ride worthwhile. The experiences athletes have at any level are going to vary, but the teammates I have and the success we've had together is something I cherish and will take with me forever. I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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