My equipment is especially heavy tonight as I sit in the locker room surrounded by teammates. We're waiting for our coach to enter and rally us before the game as though we're in a cheesy Hollywood movie. The boys are joking around, retelling the pranks pulled on the unlucky few who fell asleep first in the hotel room the night before. They talk about their sexual conquests and compare notes on the specifics – you know…guy stuff. But not me. Instead, I remain quiet; I prefer to listen and observe the social interations.
The coach enters the room and everyone becomes quiet, like an angry mob just before its leader begins to speak.
He reminds us of the importance of the game and, in doing so, voices every cliché in the coaching handbook. It doesn’t matter because it seems to work. The guys are quiet, focused and prepared for the game. A little direction is all they need.
The coach exits the room and, one by one, we follow suit. I walk down the narrow, unlit hallway and the music becomes progressively louder as I approach the ice. The guys in front of me step onto the frozen surface, one by one, and begin their warm-ups. The echoing sounds of rubber pucks hitting the boards provide a familiar comfort. When my turn to jump onto the ice comes, I hesitate and fill my lungs with air. I exhale and watch the cold turn my breath into vapour. I watch it rise and disappear before I leap onto the ice, now completely at ease.
That day I found out that someone close to me had fallen seriously ill, and I was miles away, unable to return home to be with them. Some things are out of our control. As soon as I jumped onto the ice, my only concern was to play my best. My motivation, my dedication, my performance, those things I could control.
For some, hockey is just a game, but for others, it is much more than that; it is a temporary escape, a therapeutic distraction, a simple reminder that they are not always powerless.
After spending ample time confined to a cubicle, Pierre has decided to hang up his suit and tie in order to pursue a writing career. He is a student at Algonquin College, in his final year in the Professional Writing program. Outside of class, Pierre is a passionate individual with a penchant for learning. A self-proclaimed nerd at heart, he also enjoys playing baseball and hockey, running, and over-analyzing things. On a rainy day, you can find him at his typewriter, transcribing his inner monologue.