When it comes to commitment to hockey most players can’t wait to play their next game and spend most of their time leading up to that game talking/thinking about hockey. Any REAL hockey player can tell you in great detail about the day they got the hockey bug. It might be the first pair of skates they received as a Christmas present. It could be the first goal they scored in a house league. For some it might even be their first back hand toe drag dangle followed by an epic celly. No matter how the hockey bug got a hold of you, once it did there was no turning back.
As kids we played pick up whenever we could get a ride to the rink. We played in the driveway until it was too dark to see what bush you lost your puck in, again. Then as we get a little older something happens and it’s called life. Responsibilities, significant others, jobs and starting our own families all start to chip away at the ridiculous amount of time we used to be able to commit to our passion. That’s when the excuses begin… I’m tired. The games too late. I have to work early the next day. I have plans with my girlfriend. My back hurts. I’d rather party tonight. As the excuses add up you find out who is really committed and who isn’t.
I am guilty at one point or another of making every one of those excuses and more. I have drifted away from the sport and back a few times in my life only to find myself working in the industry and loving the game more than ever. Even though I am one of those rare people that can say they love their job, I tend to get burned out from time to time and the excuses rear their ugly head. Then last night I got a wake up call from a friend, Christopher Daniel Padilla.
Chris has been playing hockey in Southern California for as long as I can remember. He is a soft spoken kid that you would consider a late bloomer when it comes to hockey. CDP has made his rounds at Narch, State Wars, Wiha, Pacific Cup, MLRH and the AIHL. Chris has been working incredibly hard to take his game to the next level and this season earned a spot on our AIHL Major Team, which brings us to what happened last night.
Our Vanquish AIHL Major Team had a game in Huntington Beach against the Ducks at 7:30pm. Chris sent me a text message yesterday afternoon letting me know there was a chance he couldn’t make it to the game because he did not have a ride. I was testing wheels at the time and didn’t see the text for a few hours. By the time I got back to Chris asking if he still needed a ride he had already made a decision of serious commitment. “I didn’t hear back from you, but I really wanted to play. So I’m at the bus stop, I’ll see you at the game” his text reply to me said. I was shocked. I almost didn’t believe him. Who would be willing to do that just to get to a game?
Sure enough when I got to the locker room he was already there getting dressed. The first words out of my mouth were “Wow kid, you have the biggest heart in the league.” Chris grinned and began to explain to me that he had to take three buses to get to the rink. However the third one was running late so he decided to walk the last mile, bag and sticks in hand, just to make sure he wouldn’t be late.
Read that last paragraph again. The next time you are too tired or don’t feel like playing some puck, think about CDP and what he is willing to do just to play a game. Think about kids like Jack Jablonski that are unable to play because of a serious injury, but would do anything to be on a rink. Yes, life does throw us curve balls and there are plenty of legitimate reasons to miss your practice or game. But if you find yourself making weak excuses to skip hockey think hard about how you got the hockey bug. Think about how much you enjoy playing the game. Think about Chris Padilla.
Thanks for making me remember what hockey commitment really is CDP.