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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

#HockeyHasHelpedMe

Yesterday in the hockey twitter world a unique hashtag began to develop. It was started by Paul Wheeler, aka FourthLineWing and Sarah Connors as a way to combat, or offer a different point of view on a article that has gone around the internet looking at the dark-side of hockey.

With the big debate relating to the negative impact on mental health playing hockey can have, Wheeler wanted to share how hockey had positively affected his mental health.

The hashtag #HockeyHasHelpedMe took over hockey twitter last night as fans and bloggers and writer took to twitter to share their stories of how hockey had made a positive affect in their lives. I too took to twitter to share my story in 140 characters or less.

and
However feeling a little more reminiscent after posting those tweets I wanted to expand on them a little more for my own sake more than anything else. Looking back on my life nearly 4 years ago hockey has helped me in more ways than I describe and all off the ice, something I didn't expect 4 years ago.

You see both the tweets I tweeted out are true, 100% true in fact, but they're too vague. They are merely the result of a long, hard road and I want to talk about how I got to the results I was able to tweet out last night.

I'm going to start with the 2nd tweet I sent out about how hockey has helped me overcome a concussion that ended my hockey career. Say What? How has hockey helped me overcome a concussion I sustained while playing hockey, which in turn ended my hockey career on the ice, but helped me launch another one off the ice? I know it's confusing but bear with me and all those questions will be answered.

I can't believe it's been almost 4 years since I had to hang-up my skates and my world was rocked forever. I was a 17 year-old goalie who had my entire life figured out. It was my second last year of organized hockey before moving off to school. I had been offered a scholarship to play hockey at University for a division II school and been offered a spot on a team the next level up from us the following season. Everything was great. Our team was one win away from heading to the Provincial championships and my hockey career had never looked better.

We stepped onto the ice knowing a win would move us one step closer to the Provincial championships. My team won the game, but for me the game was lost forever because of a concussion. I got hurt during the game, continued to play but found myself in the hospital later that night. A concussion they said and sad to report it wasn't my first, but it was my last and the one that ended my hockey career.

I was told I would never play hockey again, was told I was lucky the hit wasn't fatal; a concept I never understood until much later. As hockey players, no matter what level you play at, there is a little something inside of you that tells you that you're bluet proof and eventually you begin to believe that.

I spent the never 3 and a half months in my room. I didn't eat, only left my room to go to the bathroom, didn't talk and spent most of the time trying to sleep off a headache that wouldn't go away. I couldn't handle bright lights or loud noises and worst of all I couldn't form a sentence.

I know, I know, this all sounds way too drastic for it to be true, but it is, I live it and it's what happens when you have repeated concussions.

Towards the end of the 3 and a half months when I began too feel a little better I discovered twitter. Before my injury I ate, slept and breathed hockey, it was everything and not many of my friends felt the same way so I wanted to find other crazy hockey fans like myself.
The picture on the top is the last one before my concussion
and the one on the bottom in me in 2014.

I started off slow, didn't really know what twitter was or how to use it. Eventually I found some of the hockey circles but I found my voice really didn't matter. I was just some little kid on twitter trying to share my thoughts and opinions in a male dominated world of hockey, it just wasn't happening.

Me being me I wanted to play hockey again but both my parents and doctors said it wasn't happening. I started arguing with my parents and got pretty upset and down in the dumps that my hockey career, something I had dedicated 12.5 years of my life too was over. Who was I? What did I have if I didn't have hockey to fall back on?

Because of the concussion I had to miss a year and a half of school so I lost a lot of my friends from high school and in turn lost all my hockey friends since I could no longer player.

Out of boredom and pure frustration that no one would listen to my hockey opinions I started this very blog that I'm writing on now. It was rough, really rough but I found a few people who saw through the grammar mistakes and horrible spelling and encouraged me to keep going. I even found a guy who offered to edit my early writings and he taught me a ton about grammar and spelling, I wouldn't be where I am today without him.

I started slow getting 10 hits on a post, but eventually I saw it grow to where I was getting hundreds and sometimes thousands of hits on posts that I wrote. I was shocked that people were finally listening to what I had to say. My plan had worked and I had a voice in the hockey world. Numerous people sent me emails and tweets telling me they loved my work and saw real potential.

Eventually over time I developed into a half decent writer and I found a voice that I was confident in. Today I can share my hockey opinions with anyone either online or face-to-face and feel confident that I'm not being looked down upon because I'm young or, gasp, female. I've become fully confident in my writing voice and #HockeyHasHelpedMe develop that.

However, it's also help me become confident in other things. My writing has improved drastically, my public speaking has improved and my ability to think outside the box has also improved. With the new wave of hockey analytics taking over the hockey world I had a tough time getting into them.

While I'm still young, I'm old school enough that I still believe real talent is found by watching games and not studying numbers. I do although understand the role analytics play in hockey today and am starting to pay more attention to them and believe me, for myself that was a big step outside of the box.

So this post turned into something far longer than I'm sure you wanted to read today and if you've read this far, thank you.

#HockeyHasHelpedMe in two separate ways that actually tie in together perfectly. It helped me overcome the devastating news that my hockey career was over. Who knows how far I actually would have gone, but when you're 17 and have a lot of open doors being told you can no longer play absolutely sucks. It was a tough pill to swallow.

However my love for hockey (#HockeyHasHelpedMe) has helped me develop into something completely different. I now use my passion and knowledge to write about the game I love and help inspire my friends to also fall in love.

Through writing about the game I've been able to stick in the hockey world as best that I can and I've had some super cool opportunities that I never would have had before. I've gained confidence like I never had before through writing and formed friendships with people both online and offline who love hockey just like I do.

The bottom line is that while I thought the final concussion I suffered at 17 would end my hockey career, it really opened a door into a whole other world. Through writing, twitter and radio, I'm now more involved and have a bigger voice in the hockey world then ever before. Now I'm no one important, just a 20 year-old kid from Stouffville, Canada who pursued what they were passionate about and can't believe how #HockeyHasHelpedMe.

If you read this far thanks, you're awesome and I'm sorry for rambling on so much. Share your #HockeyHasHelpedMe story today.

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