Two things I’ve always felt strongly about are doing well at school and excelling at ice hockey. I love hockey despite having never been a natural at it, and I’ve accepted the fact that I must put more work in than others just to keep up. Clinging to the hope that hard work beats talent, I rely on Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory.Although school comes a little more naturally to me, trying to be a great student at a demanding school is still very time consuming. With both hockey and school, I feel as though I’m running out of hours.
Managing my course load with my hockey schedule has come down to both meticulous planning and a bit of figuring things out as I go. As I’m sure many Marlborough girls have experienced, school becomes chaotic to manage with frequent traveling to east coast tournaments. Even on a daily basis, I struggle to finish my homework with weeknight practices in Anaheim, when what should be two hour practices become six hour excursions after school because of the drive.
Some of the best players in my hockey program eliminate this tug of war with home schooling; others don’t mind getting Cs or the occasional D as long as they pass the class. It seems impossible to compete with kids who practice every morning and every night like professionals.
I’m not headed for the Olympics or NWHL, so I realize my success in the sport has a set expiration date: one that I’ve tried to push back by aiming to play college hockey. The east coast universities I’m looking at academically have some of the best women’s hockey teams in the world. But considering I’m neither a prodigy nor nationally ranked, my chances of playing at schools like these are practically eliminated.
It seems clear that nowadays, selective colleges are looking to admit the National Merit Scholar, the international chess champion, or the top basketball player; what doesn’t seem to be valued anymore is well roundedness.
When my effort in school and in hockey start to feel counterproductive, I’ve asked myself, “Why are you doing this?” There is little glory in women’s hockey. The amount of people that come to Division 1 women’s hockey games is usually low enough to be counted on two hands, compared to D1 men’s games that typically attract tens of thousands of spectators. If I play purely for love of the game, then what keeps me from just playing in a rec league?
The only answer I’ve come up with is that from childhood, hockey has become entrenched in my identity, something I couldn’t picture life without. It’s definitely what I’ve worked the hardest for, and with many failures, it’s given me the most grit and perseverance. At the end of the day, I don’t want to give that up.
Sometimes it feels like I can juggle both pursuits. When I get a good grade on a test or score in my game, I feel reassured that I’m capable of excelling at hockey and school. But most days, it just feels like I’m serving two masters.