Over the years some of you have gotten to know me through my various injuries. Being vain, I was standing in front of the mirror this morning and looked through the scars I’ve accumulated and then started to think, ‘who in their right mind would still keep at it?’
Through all the fractured bones, the debilitating back pains, knee pain, shoulder, concussions, groin, pulled hamstrings and so on, who the heck would still go into the sport that caused many of these injuries. That list excludes any muscle fatigue and pains from the gym. Yeah, that’s right, this guy!
When I made the decision that I would give hockey one more shot (apart from playing beer league), I had already suffered with a knee injury that had made it near impossible to walk on the affected leg. Yet I turned up at trainings, games and went to the gym even if it meant that I couldn’t walk the next day. I underwent knee surgery to fix years worth of damage to the ligaments and the meniscus to enable me to get back to the game.
The stupid thing is that most of the injuries (apart from surgery and the “big” concussion), I have hardly missed a game. Whether it was dealing with back issues, or pulled muscles, or whatever, there was always something driving me to get up and battle through it. Sometimes it worked and sometimes, well, it didn’t.
But why? Why put yourself through all of that pain? To me, giving in to some of the issues would be a sign of weakness. I guess I’ve bought into the ‘hockey players are tough’ mentality and I felt that I could still help my team. This is why I opted to delay in getting my shoulder surgery until after the season. Even though it hurt like hell at times and if I had a chance to change things, I’d still wait till the season was done. It’s difficult to express it in words, but my mentality is that I need to give everything that I have. The shelf life of an athlete is short and I want to enjoy every minute of it, no matter how painful it may be.
If I look to draw from those kinds of experiences, I can easily relate them to everyday life and in a lot of ways going through injuries has made me mentally tougher and given me the ability to deal with stressful situations better in the business environment. Even now when recovering from shoulder surgery, I was allowed to start lifting weights and all I can bench now is the bar, with no weight. For some the easiest answer would be to just say fuck it and give up. To me it is a challenge. I look at that bar, and I think to myself that within 3 months I am going to load that with 100kg weight and lift it.
Hockey is a game about rising to a challenge, game in, game out. Everything that you do off the ice must re-enforce that mentality. There should not be an easy way out. No matter how skilled you are, you need to put in the work. On the flipside what you lack in skill you make up for in work ethic. The harder you work on and off the ice, the better and more valuable you will be to your team.
Despite all the scars, the aches and pains, I would not change anything. Giving up is not an option. The only way is up, no matter what.