REMINDERS IN MORTALITY

Tonight, I played in my first men's league hockey game of the season. We played the first period to a 0-0 tie with a team that was just as bad as we were! I was thinking to myself, "Man, I am not playing well at all…it has been too long since I was last on the ice," and, "We are not playing well at all together, we have to get some shots on goal," and, "Man, my feet hurt and my legs are tired already!". All these negative thoughts were starting to run through my head and I was feeling myself get back into my ultra-competitive mode as a person who wanted to win and be a good player!

And then right as we started the second period…a player on the other team collapsed.
Face first. Stopped breathing. Some of his teammates who were firefighters and trained EMTs rushed to his side and began CPR. We found a defibrillator along the side of the rink and linked it up to him. After around four minutes of no breathing at all, the AED shocked his heart back into action and he started to breathe, move around and even talk. An ambulance came and rushed him off the ice as he talked to his wife on a phone that someone held over his face. It was an unbelievable scene, to say the least.

As soon as everyone dispersed and the other team left the ice, I sat on the bench in awe of how precious are life is. We never know when it will come to an end and how many years or days or hours or minutes or even seconds we have left! It reminded me of why I was out there playing hockey, as well. It was not to beat the other team, or prove how good (or how bad) I was, or get in better shape, or relive my high school glory days.

I was there because I loved playing hockey! It was fun for me! I loved the feeling of skating fast and feeling the cold air on my face. I loved the challenge of trying to control a buck on a blade made of carbon fiber. I loved the speed of the game and how quickly everything moved. I just loved playing…like a kid.

It's crazy how easily we forget this in athletics.
But if we remain conscious, we can play sports simply because we love to play! There is nothing more we need to strive for than that. One day, our heart will stop and all the reasons that we thought we played sports for will come to an end. But, our love for our game will never die.

My thoughts and prayers go out to that man I saw collapse on the ice tonight. I hope he is recovering well.