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“Play with passion and heart. If you don’t carry passion into the sport – or into any job for that matter – you won’t succeed.” The words of Bruins legend Phil Esposito echoed through my mind as I painstakingly laced up my skates, my fingers made raw by the crisp winter air. I was eager to experience the wind through the long “hockey hair” I had grown out since sophomore year, along with the sound of the ice crunching beneath my skates, the ring of the puck as it rattled in the net, and the ripple of energy through my hands that accompanies a hard snap-shot. I was in the place I went to reflect and to pursue my passion – my backyard ice rink.
To many, my rink may be just a patch of ice on a tarp inside a wooden frame, but to me it was so much more. It was the place I went to clear my mind and escape the pressure of balancing my social life with my workload as an AP student. On top of that, it was the place I went in order to fine-tune my hockey skills and practice the game I love; this small rink turned me into my high school team captain and Hobey Baker Award winner. It was also the place where I decided what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Over the course of my junior year of high school, I felt lost, uncertain about who I wanted to be. I put so much pressure on myself that I would change my mind about the future almost every week; one week I was sure I would become a mechanical engineer, then the next week I was set on becoming a computer scientist. It stunned me to think that after spending 11 years in school I had no idea how I wanted to utilize my knowledge and skills out in the real world. Because of all the pressure I had put upon myself, I felt the need to retreat to my rink in order to clear my thoughts. During the first few minutes of skating, I was still upset; I was fumbling the puck and missing my net even from short distances. Eventually, I settled in and relaxed. As I loosened up, my shot got more accurate, my hands got faster, and my stress went away. I found myself thinking, “What would I ever do without the game I love?” That’s when I realized that I wanted hockey to be a part of my life forever. Or rather, I needed hockey to be a part of my life forever.
After that skating session, I began shoveling the snow off of the rink and contemplated how I could build a career around hockey. Playing professionally was out of the question, so I had to consider using my other skills. That’s when it began to dawn on me. I was in AP English, enjoyed writing, and had grown up playing fantasy sports, listening to sports talk radio, and absorbing all the knowledge I could by reading sports articles. I decided that I would become a sports journalist. Whether through writing, broadcasting, or even online media, I was determined to follow hockey – the sport I have dedicated most of my life to – into the realm of journalism. It is time to carry my passion into my career.
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