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The Failures That Strengthen the Heart

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The thought of my teammates helped me to push through the obstacles I faced in my personal life this year. I did not play for the Rams this season, but I am pushing to once again pull the Ryerson jersey over my chest, to join my teammates in battle again. For now, I watch some practices outside the glass from the saddle of a stationary bike by the player’s bench, pushing each pedal stroke with the intention to move forward. Looking at the focus and skill of my teammates, I am inspired. What I would give to be out there again right now, but I know that good things take time. This setback in my hockey career doesn’t define me as a person and certainly doesn’t define my career.

Sometimes in life, the wind gets taken so far out of your sails that the world around you fades away. Your pulse quickens. Your vision turns into a cave like tunnel, the peripheries are darkness, and you only see what light is left in the distance. If it is light, in those moments, you can only hope. Like taking a hit in the game, there is a deafening pulse, a silence and the accordion of force presses in and rebounds out. For those people in your life that seem to take these hits from life like it is part of their very existence, there is something to be said. There is a life passion within them that exudes anything, overcomes their perils. They fail, and fail time again. But somehow in this failure they have learned the true tireless effort required to approach life full of force, to overcome, to grin and bare with it, to succeed over all things holding them back. They will eventually prevail.  

With an opportunity this season to make playoffs, the girls must win the last game of the season on Friday. As practice transitions from warm-up to systems, laughter begins to meander inside the glass. There is banter about the Powerplay, Penalty Kill, playful hits and taps of gloves and sticks, leaning on each other with smiles. Coach is taking players aside, defining the objective. The girls are focused and working hard, but there is ease through the intentional preparation, creating a subtle confidence.

Failure makes Champions. Failure teaches the lessons that abundant, unopposed success cannot. Failure is the life force that tests the human spirit, asks the questions, “How badly do you want this? What are you willing to do? Who are you willing to be?” Failure wakes the soul from its haunches and says, “Have you done all you can do? Or is there more to give?”

As a member of the failures this team has endured since its inception, I can tell you that the people sitting in our locker room are people of passion. They are individuals who have suffered the losses of our lives, in hockey and in life, have endured the pain of failing at what seemed like everything we did, but never ceasing to push through and move forward.

As a last place team for the past 3 years, we have been pressed in by our losses, our conflicts and opponents. We have been disappointing, far behind and undeserving at times. But we have also been supported, by ourselves and by our families, the family that is the Ryerson Athletics community, the family that is our parents, grandparents, and friends. And undoubtedly, the family that is each other.

I am now sitting in the stands taking stats for the team. From behind the glass my emotions are high as if I am playing in the game. As the final moments of the final game of the 2014-2015 regular season count down against the York Lions on Friday February 13th, the Rams lead 1-0. A must win game; fans begin to chant for the first time throughout the Mattamy Athletic Center, “Go RAMS Go! Go RAMS Go!” My throat swells, and so does my heart. Our girls have done something amazing this year; defeating York we finish 7th in the OUA. We have turned our past adversities into our first moment in success. And luck? That has nothing to do with it.

Playoffs, 2014-2015. Championship? Yet to be Determined.

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