I Fell In Love With The Game And My Talent For All The Right And Wrong Reasons

I Fell In Love With The Game And My Talent For All The Right And Wrong Reasons

I may have loved the game and my talent but it wasn't for all the right reasons.

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Ever since high school, I was in love with photography and I loved sports. I gladly volunteered to take pictures of every football game for the yearbook simply because I loved the sport and I loved taking pictures; two birds one stone right? After high school, I lost my love for photography and I went on a sabbatical for a little bit. It wasn't until I started taking pictures for lacrosse that my love for photography came back.

I started taking pictures for lacrosse photos at a small university about thirty minutes from my house. After the first few games I wasn't sure if my pictures were good enough, I wasn't sure if I should keep on wasting my gas to drive to every game, I also did not know a lot of people so I was a little bit awkward after the games; but one of the games I remember one of the players and one of the parents came up to me and affirmed the pictures that I took and how much they loved them. It was in that moment that I felt like my pictures meant something, not just to me but to other people.

The more I started attending the games and taking pictures, the more attention I had received from the players, the more special I had felt. I was never the "It Girl" in school and although I was perfectly content with that I started feeling popular and I'll be honest some of the guys on the team were not bad looking; so when they all gave me their attention I definitely felt special and I loved the attention that they were giving me.

With me being their unofficial team photographer I got invited to their parties a lot and if I ever needed a place to crash if I had drank too much one of the players always offered to let me stay the night with them. Of course, I would never drink that much to where I needed to stay the night but, I did always go out of my way to show up at parties to hang with the guys and I would do anything for them. It wasn't until my second and last year of taking pictures for the team that I started going up to the university more and that was when I started getting in trouble with my family.

My family and I have always been really close and they are pretty lenient with my party habits. The only thing they asked of me was that I not stay out too late and come home at night (unless I asked permission in advance if I can spend the night somewhere). I started going to parties more often, I started spending more time with a lot of the players, I started drinking more with the players, and I ended up staying the night with some of them because they made me feel special and I wanted that attention. At the moment I did not care about what my parents would think the next morning. I knew that they would forgive me eventually but after they forgave me I still did the same thing anyway. I put the team and the love of the game in front of my family which wasn't the best decision I made in my lifetime.

In the end I realized that as much as I love the game, love being on the field where all the excitement was, love taking pictures and seeing how they turned out, and seeing all of the players use my pictures on their social media; I fell in love with all of that for the wrong reasons. I fell in love with it because I loved the attention and I loved how special the team had made me feel because of the pictures. I fell in love with all of it because for once I felt like I mattered outside of my family. Now don't get me wrong; the team is amazing and they are all a great group of guys. Yes, they made me feel special all of the time but that was because I was special. I did a good job at capturing them playing a sport that they loved and by doing that; they thanked me by making me feel part of the team. I chose to stay the night with them because I was scared that I wouldn't feel as special as I did the next game.

Even though I fell in love with the sport for all the wrong reasons I don't think I will be able to thank the team enough for making me feel like my talent mattered. I will not be able to thank them enough for making me feel so special just because I was doing something that I loved. I will never be able to thank them for bringing my pictures to reality by sharing them all over their social media. They were the people that helped me fall in love my with my talent all over again, and for that, I am forever thankful.

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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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The Anaheim Ducks Are In A World Of Pain

The Ducks have now lost 19 out of their last 21 games amidst a multitude of problems and a rebuild may be at its beginning stages after Randy Carlyle's firing from head coach.

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On December 17, 2018, the Anaheim Ducks had just defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road 4-2, and sat in a playoff spot with a 19-11-5 record, good for 43 points and 2nd in the Pacific Division. Since then, the Ducks have lost 19 out of their last 21 games, going 2-15-4 during that stretch, now sitting at 21-26-9 and 51 points on February 12th, eight points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. After their last loss, head coach Randy Carlyle was finally axed and general manager Bob Murray stepped in as the interim coach. Many issues exist currently and for the foreseeable future in Anaheim, which could see its first sustained rebuild since the early 2000s, where the team missed the playoffs three years in a row.

One of the Ducks' bigger issues is the lack of goal scoring throughout the lineup. The leading player in goals is forward Jakob Silfverberg, with 12 in 47 games played. That's not enough for a team that is 56 games into the season. The overall points production is quite anemic too. Captain and center Ryan Getzlaf leads the club with 36 points in 50 games, and he is the only player with more than 30 points to this date.

Injuries are also factoring into the equation: center Adam Henrique and defenseman Brandon Montour are the only Ducks to have played in every game this season, with players such as forwards in Silfverberg, Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell, Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, and Ondrej Kase as well as defensemen Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm, and goaltender Ryan Miller all spending at least five games on the injured reserve.

With so many players in and out of the lineup, not to mention that most of the fill-ins are inexperienced at the NHL level, it is hard to develop any sort of chemistry for an extended period of time. Goaltender John Gibson has been unable to maintain grade A performance in net, as his save percentage is now at 0.914, below where he started the season. With all of this considered, the Ducks have a tough future ahead when considering their salary cap situation.

Perry and Getzlaf, both of who will turn 34 in May, have a cap hit of $8.625 and $8.25 million for the next two years after the 2018-19 season, while Kesler, who turns 35 in August, makes $6.825 million for the next 3 years after this season concludes. Perry has only played in five games this year due to injuries, Getzlaf's production is declining and not up to par with how much he is paid, and Kesler has only six points in 48 games, and he also only played in 44 games last season due to injuries, scoring just 14 points.

These expensive contracts are untradeable unless they attach a younger asset in a trade, like prospects Sam Steel, Max Jones, Maxim Comtois, or Troy Terry. It is possible that Kesler and/or Perry will be bought out of their contracts in the offseason, meaning they will save money against the salary cap for the remainder of those contract years, but will have portions of that contract counting against the cap for a few years more.

Despite these bad contracts which currently prevent the Ducks from signing more than one big free agent, the aforementioned prospects will most likely see more substantial time in Anaheim next season, which could boost the club, but it is unlikely that any of them take the league by storm to make the Ducks a contender again. For this to happen, young forwards like Rakell, Kase, and Daniel Sprong will have to exceed expectations, while the defensive core will also need to step it up compared to their performance this, which makes them look overpaid.

As it stands, the Ducks are 4th in the 2019 NHL Draft Lottery and could see a highly touted prospect come to Anaheim next year, but the current roster and prospect core will need bounce back seasons or the management group will be forced to blow up much of the roster, which would almost guarantee missing the playoffs again.

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