A Month in Hell

I didn’t know this day would come so soon.  I’m finally walking away from the game I love so much.  When I committed to Ryerson I never thought I would be on the varsity team for just half a semester.   Plans change.

Not many people know the story of how I ended up at Ryerson.  I’m not even quite sure what really happened, but Ryerson was my way out.  It saved me from myself.

This past season with Québec was supposed to be one of the best years of my life.  It started out that way for sure.  I was considered to be a leader and was thought of highly by the coaching staff, which is what every overage player wants.

In November, we traded for a fourth overage player.  For those of you who don’t know, each team can only dress three overage players each game.  So this meant someone was on the outside looking in.  That someone was me.

Weeks went by and I hadn’t played a single game.  That was tough for me.  Think about Québec City in the middle of December without hockey.  You can get depressed out there just because of the weather, and losing hockey, didn’t make things much better.  The rink was our sanctuary.  If you lost that feeling you didn’t have much else.

The beginning was the worst.  I would watch games looking for mistakes people would make so that I could dress the next game.  I was an awful teammate at this time.  I constantly wanted us to get blown out.  Not to mention, my paranoia level was at an all time high about what would be happening with the lineup the next game.  I would try to analyze every practice line up posted to see if I could get any hints.  The worst part was there was no answer for why I wasn’t playing, everyone in that room knew it wasn’t about ability.  Then again, I will never know.

At this point I was struggling.  I was treated by everyone like I had a week to live.  They could see I was defeated.  I was going out to bars during the week and really just trying to forget about what I had waiting for me at the rink the next day.  It would usually be interviews asking me how I’m handling things or how to stay positive in times like these. I would respond with the classic, “got to fight through adversity, when I get my chance I will be ready”.  Man what a load of crap that was.  I had nothing left at that point.  I went from a guy who had a voice on the team to a complete outsider.  Basically a practice player.

That led to a decision.  I decided to put my future in my own hands.  I had been talking to Ryerson, McGill, and St. Mary’s about coming for the following season.  I had already verbally committed to Ryerson a summer before.  My loyalty lay with them.  I spoke to a couple people there and it seemed like I could come in at January because they had so many injuries on defence.  It all fit together so perfectly.

From that point on I went to practice with a smile on my face because I knew I was out of there.  I didn’t care anymore. I mean I loved it there but it just wasn’t what it was before.

I had always dreamed of my last junior game, especially being with the Remparts.  Now I can barely even remember it.  At the time I had no idea that would be my last game.  I played one more time before I left and that was against Rouyn-Noranda.  Couldn’t tell you the score, couldn’t tell you I felt any emotion whatsoever.  That’s not what I envisioned as my last game.

Ultimately, my biggest regret was not having that last game, where I was totally aware that it would be my last.  I had the chance to play before Christmas but I wasn’t comfortable with the promise I had to make in return.  I wasn’t coming back after Christmas, and once I cancelled my flight they saw the writing on the wall.

I’m so thankful to Ryerson’s hockey program and the entire coaching staff, for really saving me from myself at that point.  If I had stayed there I would have dug myself a deeper hole.  It was toxic for me.

Everything happens for a reason.  It’s tough to keep telling yourself that, when things seem to be going so so wrong for you.  But it’s true.  I ended up at Ryerson with the intention to transfer into the Sport Media program, and I got in.  That’s all I wanted.   Then a couple months later I’m walking away from hockey to pursue my next chapter.  Again, plans change.

I’m excited to be joining RTA at Ryerson and have the opportunity to work side-by-side with the athletics program in the community.

Let’s get this started.

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3 thoughts on “A Month in Hell

  1. Very well said and written, Aaron. Your candor and honesty are admirable.

    Sorry to know that you ar hanging your skates from hockey. But, no doubt you will be very successful in sports media and your career soon will take off.

    As you said, let’s get started.

    Your friend Vince Peca

    Like

  2. Great words, Aaron. Incredibly brave of you to share this story, to admit you were hurting, and to make the moves you did for your own best interests. We’ve never met, but I feel like I know you – your dad couldn’t be more proud of your accomplishments. The challenges you faced in Quebec will only serve to make you stronger as you start this next chapter. Best of luck!

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  3. Aaron; a famous Leonardo da Vinci quote…
    “Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.”

    The ultimate game is the game of life-you are an amazing person with lots of real fans cheering for you … its game time !

    Like

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