More Than a Game

Write about a challenging situation that you have learned from in your lifetime.

As the puck becomes tangled beneath my skates, my body tenses, and I frantically brace for the inevitable destruction. My senses are acutely alert to the heavy breathing that radiates from the opposing player barreling toward my backside. While this pulsing sensation skips wildly along the raised hairs on my neck, I quickly resort to an impossible means of escape by “C-curling” toward the enclosing boards, abandoning the puck altogether; unfortunately, my attempted getaway is merely wasted effort. I gasp for air as if I am about to be submerged underwater. Glass flashes brilliantly across my eyes. Sharp pain races up my left side. Frozen numbness harshly grips my shoulder. In a brief moment, I am lying lifelessly on the blood-spattered ice, trying to recollect my spilling mind. This physical collision is the beginning of a downward psychological spiral, but I will eventually ascend from its depths.Scraping myself awkwardly off the ice, I struggle over the boards and collapse on the bench with my equipment strewn about me, fully intending to skate again. As a pure-bred hockey player, my natural instinct to play under any circumstance takes immediate precedence over my common sense. However, my innate desire to keep playing is instantly dashed as I reach my right hand under my sweat-encrusted jersey in search of my sore left shoulder, only to find that it has apparently dropped off the face of the earth. All hopes of a personally successful season are crushed in a matter of seconds by an untimely shoulder dislocation.My mind shifts gears, flooding with thoughts as quickly as it had been emptied onto the ice only moments earlier. Why? Why me? Why now? This is supposed to be our year. And now this? I am suddenly flushed with anger—anger that soon turns into debilitating agony. How am I supposed to help the team from the bench? The hurt carves itself deep into my psyche, and I immediately feel isolated from the players and coaches around me. With one simple stroke, the Hockey Gods have completely alienated me from my team.In the coming weeks, people bombard me with questions about my injury, following up their inquiries with a seemingly half-hearted “I’m sorry,” as if apologizing could brighten my day or miraculously heal my shoulder. My smile in response to their “sympathy” only masks my true indignation. Of course, the bulky, black sling (complete with excessively large side padding and a complementary stress ball) does not help my fragile state of mind, incessantly reminding me that I cannot move my arm for the next seven weeks. And to make matters worse, I now must helplessly watch my team struggle against opponents in the next several contests, losing close battles one after another. I have hit a personal rock bottom of self-pity and sorrow.A few weeks later, between periods of a crucial league game, I finally realize that I have to make a vital decision to shake off this pessimistic attitude. Not only am I bringing myself down, I know that I am also setting a terrible example for our younger players. I can continue to immaturely feel sorry for myself, or grow up, accept my situation, and do what I can to try to positively assist and influence our struggling team. Choosing the latter route, I interject myself into our huddle, offering words of encouragement and urging everyone to be stronger on the puck—a recurrent weakness of ours. I suddenly feel invigorated and, more importantly, I begin to see myself as an integral part of the team again. Soon, I even resume skating despite doctor’s orders to avoid all physical activity. Although holding a stick requires two functioning hands, which I don’t yet have, I realize that it only takes one good hand to be able to pull aside a freshman teammate and coach him.

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