Learning Life Skills on the Ice

Learning Life Skills on the Ice

In the state of hockey, we are always anxiously waiting for the start of the hockey season: the skates come on, the butterflies in your stomach surface and your whole body jumps with excitement. That time has arrived; what we’ve been waiting for is finally here. But something feels very different this year compared to the last three, and I am reminded of what my coach told me three years ago; to leave everything out on the ice each and every game I play, because, as he said, “In the blink of an eye, it will be your senior year and you will be able to count the games you have left at BSM on your fingers.” My “blink of an eye” has passed.

As a senior captain of the girls’ hockey team here at BSM, the thoughts consuming me feel so much more drastic—a strange combination of sadness, excitement, panic and focus. This is my last season of having the honor to put on a Red Knight hockey jersey and getting to play with some of my best friends. Since my freshman year, I had hoped for the opportunity to lead the team, and as luck would have it, I was blessed with that opportunity along with my friend and co-captain Sally Calengor. I feel a strong sense of responsibility to my hockey family; to be dependable, to be positive, to be motivating, to lead by example, to be real. These responsibilities are important, and I am committed to working hard at making a positive impact and continuing to grow and learn from others. To me, that’s the stuff that makes fantastic seasons!

Speaking of seasons, this will be my fourth one here on the BSM girls’ hockey team. Looking back, I see a different Grace Juckniess four years ago than the one today. I see changes in my hockey skills, my outlook on the game of hockey and my view of life itself. These were all shaped by the two coaching staffs I was fortunate enough to have. Both were incredible influences on who I am today. That said, it was last year that our new coaches Shjon Podein and Nick Sperides, really helped me better understand the connection between the game of hockey and the game of life. The preparation, focus, determination and accountability that they emphasize to us during the season, is just as important off the ice in our everyday lives. Those concepts served as the foundation of our team last year and define our culture. The more dedicated and disciplined in our approach, the more likely we will succeed—in hockey and in life.

I am convinced this season will be special. I think we will surprise a lot of teams. Our first several games include some of the best teams in the state—Edina, Eden Prairie and Blake. I am beyond excited to begin the end of my hockey journey with this team and see how the preparation, determination and accountability show up on and off the ice.