Everyone typically rushes off the ice when the skate ends – except for these guys. The thoughtful elite juniors surrounding me stay to gather pucks for me. We took this pic after our last skate together for the summer. They are heading back to their respective teams scattered throughout the US and Canada. We started skating together last year during their extended breaks. They inspire me and playing with them makes me a better player.
Being an athlete is never easy and I make it a point to keep in touch with them during their seasons. I reach out to see how they’re doing, knowing that they’ve devoted themselves to getting to the highest level of hockey, which can be a lonely path. Especially when you’re far from family and friends, often isolated in small towns, living in a stranger’s guest bedroom, working long hours on your craft – day in, day out. I encourage them, listen to their challenges, offer support and advice, and make sure they know that I genuinely care about them as people, as friends.
It doesn’t have to take much time and effort to make a difference and show that you care. It could be as simple as staying to pick up pucks.