Know when it’s time to hang ’em up
I'm often asked whether I play hockey anymore. The answer, sadly, is no. There are three reasons for that.
First, I simply don't have the time. I coach a Provencial Women's Hockey League team, have an eight- month old baby boy at home and do skill development with teams and through my camps all year-round.
Second, it hurts … a lot.
I'm not looking for pity points here, but ever since I had major back surgery 10 years ago, playing hockey is one of the few things that really hurts. My left leg goes numb after a few shifts, then my back starts to ache, and the next day I feel about 15 years older.
Again, I'm not looking for sympathy, but I do find it slightly ironic (and frustrating) that one of the things that brought me the most joy in my life now brings me the most pain.
And the third reason I don't play anymore is actually the simplest one of all: My passion for playing at a high level isn't there anymore.
Don't get me wrong: I still love playing pick-up hockey, scrimmaging with my players and being on the ice. That will never change.
But I had an “ah-ha” moment eight years ago that stopped me from playing at the elite level for good.
I was driving out to practice – a 90 minute commute in awful traffic – and I realized I really didn't want to go to practice.
You've probably felt that way before. Whether it's on the way to a practice, or game, or school, or work, when you feel like you'd rather be doing something else.
But this was different.
I can honestly say that, before that day in the car, I was ALWAYS excited about going to practice.
... Even when I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open.
... And when I was so sore I could barely lift my legs.
... Even when I knew it was going to be a really hard practice and I wouldn't get home until really late and have to get up early the next morning to do it all again.
I was always excited about going to practice...
... Until one day, I wasn't.
One day, I just realized that I didn't want to be an elite-level hockey player anymore.
And it was the strangest feeling I had ever experienced.
I had spent the last 15 years of my life passionately pursuing my goals and dreams on the ice. Each and every day I was pushing my body and mind to the limit, so that I could be the best player possible.
And then all of a sudden, I didn't want to do it anymore.
For the first time ever, I didn't want to go to practice.
It had never occurred to me that there would come a time when I wouldn't want to train and compete at the highest level anymore.
I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that I had changed … but I was.
Now I consider myself very fortunate that my passion for playing has been replaced by my passion for coaching. As crazy as it may sound, I love coaching as much (if not more) than I did playing.
So as difficult as it was for me to step away from competing as a player, I have been able to pursue my life's passion of coaching as a result.
There is simply no way that I could continue to play at a high level and be able to do what I do now with Total Female Hockey. So, as it turns out, one of the hardest decisions I ever made, turned out to be one of the best.
So why am I sharing this story with you today?
Because now we are deep into the playoff run, and over the next few weeks, the demands on our time and energy will only intensify.
There may be times over the next few months when you feel like you'd rather be anywhere other than in the rink.
I am always asking players to “Work Hard and Dream BIG,” and hopefully you've got the energy and enthusiasm to do that every day.
But if you ever feel that your passion for playing the game is starting to fade, and you continuously find yourself wishing that you were anywhere else but the rink, I want you to take some time to question WHY you are there.
We all have our own motivations for being at the rink.
These days, I'm there because I want to help players become the best they can possibly be on and off the ice. Fifteen years ago, I was there because I wanted to be the best College Hockey player I could possibly be.
I have changed.
My passion for the game is still as strong as ever, but now it is focused on coaching instead of playing.
There is nothing wrong with realizing that your goals and dreams have changed.
Just be honest with yourself when they do.
Work Hard. Dream BIG.
Your friend and coach,
Kim McCullough, MSc, YCS, is the founder and director of Total Female Hockey. Our website is packed with more than 400+ free videos and articles – check it out: www.TotalFemaleHockey.com.