INDIANAPOLIS – It’s officially Thanksgiving in the United States and that means time with family and friends and attempting to eat as much food as humanly possible. Now, I’m not usually one to write what I am thankful for all over the internet, but this piece is a little different. There is a lot to be thankful for and here are a few of them for me.
First, let me say how unbelievably thankful I am for my friends, my family, my beautiful fiancé, and the fact that I have food and a roof over my head every night. Many of the friends I have made over the years have come from playing hockey and just spending time around the rink. I grew up playing many sports because it was something that my parents knew I enjoyed. I was lucky to play everything from baseball, soccer, lacrosse, golf and obviously hockey. With three brothers, my parents were always driving my brothers and me around the Midwest playing games against hundreds of different teams. I can’t thank them enough for the many weekends they sacrificed and many hours spent in the car driving to whatever rink was next.
Playing hockey was one thing that allowed me to escape the world. Nothing else mattered when I was on the ice. Playing a weekly beer league game still gives me that feeling. It’s something that I can’t put into words but without it, I don’t know where I would be.
My Dad was my coach throughout travel hockey and up until high school. The amount I learned from him on and off the ice is indescribable. Whether it was to work hard, how to respect the game, your coaches and everyone involved or just telling me to keep my mouth shut on the bench (full disclosure, I never really listened to that last one). He drove me all around the Midwest and even Canada. We were lucky to travel to Canada for the Silver Sticks Tournament together three years in a row. While playing in those tournaments, it is tradition to trade and collect pins from other teams. My Dad always told me to collect the pins and put them somewhere I won’t lose them. I still have every pin from every team I could get one from on an Indianapolis Racers skate towel.
I spent many a year in hockey rinks all over the United States. While playing travel hockey, I made many lifelong friends. Anybody who has ever played hockey will tell you that it’s an incredibly small world. No matter where you are if you are talking to somebody who plays, it seems that they know somebody that you know or they played with somebody that you played with as well. The friends I have made through hockey have turned into friendships that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Whether it was somebody who played travel hockey with me or somebody who I spent several years playing college hockey with, I can confidently say that they are some of my best friends. There is nothing better than being able to sit down, have a beer and tell stories about our time playing hockey all over the United States.
Every year for the past three years, my brother has arranged ice time for my family and our closest hockey friends to play a pick-up game on the day after Thanksgiving. It’s a time to reconnect, drink beer if you aren’t still full from Thanksgiving, and just enjoy everyone’s company. “The Thanksgiving Skate” has become something that is extremely important to me and something that I wouldn’t miss for the world. Being able to be around people that my brothers and I grew up playing with and still remain friends with is my favorite part of any holiday and something I hope continues for many years to come.
So as we are all saying our thanks, eating delicious food and drinking lots of beer, wine or whatever you drink, don’t forget those that you see a few nights a week at your local rink. Those are friendships that should be cherished. No matter what kind of day I am having, I know that being in the rink and on the ice with great friends is something that I am extremely thankful for.
So, from my crazy hockey family to yours, I wish you all a very safe, and happy Thanksgiving.