A student in class the other day asked me why I stopped playing hockey. I played Division I Ice Hockey at RPI in New York for 4 years and all while growing up. I had to pause a bit before I started to answer this question and think about it. Why did I stop playing hockey? I stopped playing hockey because the dream was over. My career as a female hockey player had finished when the buzzer sounded against Cornell. I still remember every detail and every minute of that game. There really isn’t an after to college hockey for females like there is for males. So after the last game – I was done. I moved on with my athletic career very quickly as some others stay with a sport either by coaching, joining a club or even just pick up hockey. I, on the other hand was completely finished with the sport. I put 22 years of my heart and soul into the sport of ice hockey. Looking back, the sport was very good to me. I found my best friends through the sport. The sport taught me what hard work is. The sport taught me how strong I am. I know I can keep going even if I don’t want to because hockey taught me that I am strong enough. I am looking at you 5 OT’s and the skate of November 6, 2006 (think of this for that day). The sport taught me leadership and patience. The sport taught me how to handle pressure of the “big” day. The sport taught me confidence.
The biggest question I got asked once my career as a Division I ice hockey player was over, what are you going to do now and are you going to keep playing somewhere? I always answered no to the last question but wasn’t sure what was next besides knowing I was done with hockey.
My good friend, Tara, who I grew up playing ice hockey with and now have completed our first Ironman together at Lake Placid, told me about this thing she had signed up for. She said you swim, bike then run. Now, I had started to run just to stay in shape and had completed a half marathon before so I wasn’t completely new to endurance sports but this intrigued me. Of course, swimming scared that crap out of me but biking and running sounded awesome. So what did I do, I bought my first road bike and started to get to work, just like I had when I was 5 years old dreaming of the Olympics except this time I was dreaming of Kona.
Triathlon is my new hockey, except all of the things I mentioned before about what hockey had taught me, I am still learning in triathlon. I am still learning to have confidence. I am still learning to keep going even when it hurts. Yes, I think I can use my experiences from hockey to help but triathlon is still a new ball game where I need to learn a lot more. But, the more I think about it the more it makes sense. I took 22 years of learning in hockey, why would triathlon be any different. I have a long way to go in this sport but I will not give up on my dream and there is no end to triathlon like there was with hockey. Still, some things hold true. Triathlon has taught me humility. It humbles me everyday. It has taught me how important hard work is time and time again. Just like hockey gave me my best friends, triathlon has given me one the most important people in my life and for that I couldn’t be more thankful.
Dreams never end, they just change. I may not be going to the Olympics with my skates on but I will try my hardest to get to our Olympics of Ironman Triathlons in Kona.