I met you when my parents brought me to the rink when I was 5 years old, and 20 years later, I am officially saying goodbye to you as a player. You have brought me so many incredible memories and I will forever be grateful for you. You have taught me so much more than just the X’s and O’s of the game. You have taught me hard work, dedication, preparation, focus, mental and physical toughness, but most importantly, you taught me to never quit.
During the winter of my senior year at New Hampton (a New England Prep School), I accepted a scholarship offer from Providence College. It was an absolute dream come true to be an under-sized, Massachusetts kid and have the opportunity to compete in the Hockey East. Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t go as planned. That summer of 2011, the Providence hockey staff was fired and Nate Leaman was hired. As any hockey player would be, I was nervous about my future with Providence. During the fall of 2011 while playing for the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs in the EJHL, I decommitted from Providence and was back to square one, looking for a place to play. Coach Leaman saw me differently than the previous coach did, and I wasn’t a guy that fit what he wanted. I have to tip my cap, however, to Coach Leaman and Providence College Hockey as they won a National Championship in 2015. Looks like Nate made a good decision letting me go!
After playing one season of junior hockey with the Monarchs I wanted to go to college. I chose to attend SUNY Plattsburgh, a very solid and well respected Divison III program. I won’t lie, I was bitter and disappointed that I wasn’t a “Division I” player. But, going to Plattsburgh was an awesome opportunity for me. I played in over 100 games, walked on to the lacrosse team and had a good amount of success in both sports. Not a big deal but kind of a big deal. This leads me to my point about not quitting. No athlete has a perfect career. At one point, we all struggle. We go through ups and downs, slumps, bad seasons, bad losses, and times where we may think we don’t love the game anymore. But, you taught me that when times are tough, not to quit.
I am biased to those who play sports, and very biased to those who play hockey. I truly believe that hockey provides you characteristics that define you as a person, so for those reading this who are younger or have kids, remember that hockey is more than just the “on ice” stuff. Hockey will teach you (or your kids) what I mentioned early in this post: hard work, dedication, preparation, focus, mental and physical toughness. But, it will also teach you life lessons based on the experiences you had as a player such as, loyalty, commitment, honesty, and love.
No matter what sport you play or what level you played it at, when the time comes and you are no longer an athlete, you are filled with tons of emotion. I’ll miss the good days and the bad days. The good games and the bad games. Getting screamed at by coaches. The bag skates and early morning lifts. Battling with my teammates. Bus rides. The locker room. I’ll miss it all. You have blessed me with some incredible people as well. Thank you to my teammates, my Fifty Ninety boys and Bob Emery for giving me a great four years at Plattsburgh. Thank you to Jean-Guy Trudel for taking a chance on me and giving me a shot to play professional hockey in Peoria. Thank you to my Peoria roommates Ben Oskroba and Cody Dion for being my big brothers during our two years together. And most importantly, thank you to my family who has stuck by me for the entire journey. Nothing will ever be able to repay the sacrifices you all made. As my time as a player ends, I am sad. But, I am excited for the next step in my journey. I am extremely fortunate to stay involved in the game as I have taken a position at my alma mater, the New Hampton School, where I will be working in the Academic Support Program and coaching hockey and lacrosse. Thank you again, Hockey. I look forward to hanging out with you on the bench. I’ll bring the beers…I’ll bring the beers.