I write this as I look back at my short and disappointing playing career. Being a goalie is something that will stick with you for the rest of your life. I write to you thinking that no matter how many years go by without putting on the gear, being a goalie is still on my mind every damn day.
Being a goalie was something I never thought would happen in my life. I was a crap defenseman playing squirts at the time our goalie quit. It happens that the goalie had quit because myself and others were chirping her to hard. Were we being mean? Yes. Did I ever regret it? No. Why? Because I got to become the new goalie on our team. I went to hockey camp over winter break and I tried to learn something. But that wasn’t the most exciting part….. I got new gear, well used gear but it was mine. Brown Elite gloves and Franklin THT pads with toe buckles. I would sit for hours, just looking at the gear in hockey magazines, picturing myself in other gear, dreaming of growing for my next set and counting down the days till I got my first goalie helmet. I share this story not because I think you care about my own thoughts, but because anyone who has ever played goalie can name every set of pads they have ever owned and what they did to them dating back to their first set. Every goalie has a fascination away from the game and no matter how many times you try to forget about it, it still lingers.
Now to the good part. Being a young goaltender is weird. At first you suck, well everyone sucks, but then you get good and people get excited when you make a big save or have a great game. Enjoy that part, but also enjoy when you play like shit and no one wants to talk to you. I’m serious enjoy that part. There are so many lessons to take away from that feeling. Every goalie knows that feeling whether they’re five or forty. It SUCKS but I guarantee you, that feeling of defeat is something that can stick with you and help you on and off the ice. Enjoy every moment because before you know it you’ll be sitting on the computer looking at gear for the upcoming season, keeping folders of screenshots of custom sets you want and then all of a sudden you realize that you decided to not play anymore. You realize that the sweet set from Brian’s, CCM’s, Warrior or Bauer is not a reality and there will be no more browsing Goalie Monkey, Duke’s. GSBB or GGSU for that next set. FYI don’t get your mask painted for one team and then go play for another, it sucks.
What I am trying to say is it doesn’t matter how far you go in the game, take away the most important parts, the memories and the mental aspect. Think of every team you’ve played on, it’s only been yourself and someone else who can understand what we go through. We are unique brand of athlete. Cherish that. So enjoy being young and be the best goalie you can be. Let hockey take you away from home and follow your dreams. Don’t turn down any opportunity or any pair of pads. But remember there is always another game to be played and someone is always looking for a new goalie. Don’t isolate yourself from your teammates. Show them you care and want to improve, don’t sulk in the corner or the back of the bus. Don’t let a coach rattle you and affect your mindset. Play for yourself and your teammates and nothing will stop you. Look good not just in gear but how you skate, how you handle the puck, how you communicate to your teammates. Soak up every moment, it is gone before you know it. You’ll miss it, you’ll want it, because there is no better feeling than making a desperation save in a close game, shutting out a higher skilled team, getting a new set of gear or even, losing to a team but knowing you faced way too maaannnyy shots for anyway to be mad at you cause you still had a .910.
Nothing will ever beat the feeling of being in a net, feeling calm, knowing I was going to play well and having a swagger to my game. Nothing will beat knowing I was backing up and spending the entire warm up chucking sauce all over the neutral zone. And to be honest, nothing will ever beat my first Junior A start and win with my parents in the rink. So make sure you god damn enjoy it and order yourself some sick looking gear because you never know when you have to look good for many years to come.
Soak it up, play every game like it’s your last, whether it is or not.
Sincerely,A Washed Up Goalie