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Ashleigh Maestas | Overcoming fear, anxiety, and depression through hockey


I was laying on my bed in Hawaii. As I sat and stared at the ceiling, I felt an intense pull for something different. I knew I had been putting off a dream of mine since I was little. This dream was to play hockey. At this point, it was 2010 and I was an adult in the United States Army. At this time in my life, I felt stagnant. I was not living to my true potential and honestly felt extremely depressed. I knew something needed to change.

I grew up in Arizona and had no idea how to get started with the sport. Fear kicked in and I started telling myself I was too old to start. I grabbed my computer anyways and was surprised to find a hockey shop in the area. With my keys in hand I rushed to my car and made it to the shop. I got fitted and left with all new equipment.

To be honest, that equipment never got used. Fast forward to 2019 and it was still held up in a bag and never touched. Until one day I had enough. I was having anxiety attacks, massive bouts of depression, and feeling disappointed in myself. I contacted Ocean Ice Arenahome of the Women’s ASU hockey team, and signed up for my first adult novice skills class.

To say I was nervous was an understatement, but once I got inside the coaches were very welcoming and made me feel comfortable. They showed me how to properly put on all my gear, some basic beginner advice, and encouraged me that I would have a ton of fun. They were right.

Once that session was over, I knew I was hooked. I make it a point to attend this class weekly and am finally implementing more ice time as the days go on. The point I want to drive home here is you are never too old to start playing the game of hockey. When the term “Hockey Is For Everyone” is thrown around, it isn’t just a cool thing to draw attention. It really is the way of life. Hockey players encourage other hockey players no matter what skill level, age, or gender. We understand and respect anyone who takes the leap into the sport and does their best.

I wish I would have known how welcoming hockey was. Looking back, I imagine where I would be today if I just had the courage to overcome my fear and take action. On the same note, I am beyond grateful I began when I did. It is positively affecting every area of my life; I am creating friendships I never thought possible, challenging myself daily, getting in better shape, and having the time of my life. I wake up excited instead of riddled with anxiety and fear. I look forward to life because of this game. It really is a family.

Hockey builds confidence.
Hockey creates family.
Hockey deepens your connection with yourself.
Hockey builds mental resilience.
Hockey has helped me overcome anxiety, depression, and self doubt. Without this game, I don’t know where I would be.
This is my hockey journey and I cannot wait to continue sharing it with everyone.

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