Ten Years Later…

Ten years ago tonight was a night that forever changed my life.

18 year old me left work (after school at a law office) around 5:15pm, headed home, grabbed some dinner and then got in the car to head to Hartford, CT for hockey practice. I played on a Midget AAA program based out of Newington and Cromwell, CT. It was our last week before holiday break and we had just come off a big tournament win in New Jersey.

My car was in the shop for an oil change so my mom let me borrow her car for the evening. We were on the ice from 8-9:30pm. After practice I showered, threw my gear in the trunk and left the rink for the 1 hour 15 minute drive home. I pulled up to the light to turn on to I-91 North and popped my favorite CD into the CD player (Linkin Park, I know I’m dating myself). Then my life changed forever.

While sitting at a red light, I was rear ended by someone who had fallen asleep at the wheel. He hit me while going approximately 50mph. My car was pushed clear across the intersection and into oncoming traffic. Luckily, it was 10:15 at night and no one was coming. My head was shaken back and forth and hit the headrest so hard that it bent the seat in half. I was knocked unconscious, out for an unknown period of time. The trunk of the car was completely impacted into the body. One of the last memories I have of that night is calling my mom and letting her know that I was “going to be home late, I got in an accident but I have to go because the police are here”.

That accident ended my hockey career and started a 3 year odyssey of doctors, lawyers and post-concussion syndrome. I went from being at the top of my class to barely graduating from high school, missing 50 days of school in four months. I struggled through my freshman year of college (academically and socially). I spent countless hours with neurologists, psychologists and psychiatrists. I still have huge memory gaps from high school – Senior Year? Prom? Graduation? Various other events and years of time that happened in high school? They don’t really exist in my mind other than the knowledge that something like that happened and I was there.

I am sharing this story as a means of recognizing and celebrating the ten year anniversary that changed my life. This story is not a sob story, rather a celebration of all that life is and all that you can become when life knocks you down. So what happened next?

I refused to let this event define who I was and was I was capable of.

After having a GPA of 2.45 my freshman year, I graduated from Notre Dame in 2009 with a 3.1 – the result of 3 years of 3.67 work in the classroom.

I spent five years with the Notre Dame Hockey Program as a student assistant – spending every extra minute I had at the hockey rink, and doing whatever task the coaching and support staff needed done. In five years at Notre Dame, I received a CCHA Championship Ring (2009), a National Finalist Trophy (2008) and a jersey as recognition of my work and dedication to the program.

I parlayed my work in the classroom and with the hockey team at Notre Dame into a Graduate Assistant position with the University of Massachusetts. After two years in Amherst, I received an M.S. degree in Sport Management and turned the Director of Hockey Operations/Video Coordinator into a valued asset on the coaching staff and a full time position at the school.

In the Summer of 2012, I left Amherst to become the Assistant Coach at Colby College. I have spent three years living out my dreams coaching and recruiting for a college hockey program. I work for a great school and am surrounded by great people both on our team and at our school.

Why do I coach college hockey? I coach to help young men have the opportunity that I never did. I want them to appreciate every moment they have in the game because you never know when it’s going to be taken away from you – and you never know how long and hard you’re going to have to fight to get back to where you were.

Ten years ago, I was involved in a violent car accident that forever changed my life. I am convinced that I never would have been a hockey coach if I had been able to continue my playing career. The fight and the climb back from ten years ago tonight has been long and never easy, but the lessons I’ve learned and the people I’ve met have made me a better person. Events and circumstances in life happen for a reason. You can either let them define you or you can take the reins and make your life into what you want to become. The choice is yours.

Pivotal Moments

In every game there are moments. There are moments of success and moments of failure. Individual, small plays and battles that are won and lost.

Before, during and after each moment, you have no way of knowing if that moment will decide the game. This clarity only comes when the final whistle has blown.

These moments come and go on every ice sheet around the world every night.

We love games because of the drama they create and the opportunity they present to measure yourself. Every game brings pivotal moments.

We never know when these moments will appear or how they will go. Why risk having a moment be the one that defines you? Why not dictate your moments every chance you get?

We all want to win games. Win your battle. Win your moment. If you win more pivotal moments than you lose, you will win the game.

“Will you define the moment? Or will the moment define you?”

Pivotal Moments

In every game there are moments. There are moments of success and moments of failure. Individual, small plays and battles that are won and lost.

Before, during and after each moment, you have no way of knowing if that moment will decide the game. This clarity only comes when the final whistle has blown.

These moments come and go on every ice sheet around the world every night.

We love games because of the drama they create and the opportunity they present to measure yourself. Every game brings pivotal moments.

We never know when these moments will appear or how they will go. Why risk having a moment be the one that defines you? Why not dictate your moments every chance you get?

We all want to win games. Win your battle. Win your moment. If you win more pivotal moments than you lose, you will win the game.

“Will you define the moment? Or will the moment define you?”

Wednesday Drill of the Week: 2v1 to 4v2

2v1 to 4v2

Another transition drill, this one focuses on the offensive side of the transition game.

The drill starts with X1 and X2 (in black) crossing and attacking one D 2v1. Play out the rush.

On a whistle, X3 takes off with a puck. X1 and X2, as well as the D that played the 2v1 join him to create a 4 man rush. Two new D (in green) gap from the red line and play the rush 4v2. This rush plays out. On the whistle, two new players cross and attack 2v1. X3 provides backpressure on the 2v1 rush. The drill becomes continuous.

Areas of emphasis are quick transition from the 2v1 to 4v2. On the whistle, every player should be looking to quickly jump and attack on the change of direction. The D should activate quickly and look to get up ice to create a four man front.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: 3v2 +1 O/D Transition

3v2 +1 OD Transition

A multiple element transition drill. The drill starts with the three black XF’s and one black X D attacking the two red OD with the one red OF backchecking. On a pass, the three XFs attack 3v2 with a backchecker and X D trying to jump into the play (3v2 +1/1 rush). The rush plays out, then goes into a 3v3 down low (X D is done after rush).

Two new D wait in NZ, two red F’s move into the zone above the circles (they cannot be defended). When the red team gets the puck, they pass to the forwards and active a new 3v2 +1/1 rush (down low F joins, weak D activates and one XF backchecks). It becomes a continuous drill.

The down low forward has a larger workload in this drill – two rushes and one backcheck. It is important that everyone works through the down low segment of the drill. Additionally, you could move the “safe zone” forwards back to the far blue line to create a longer skate for them.

Focus is on the transition elements of the drill, encourage players to be active participants and anticipate getting up ice quickly as the play moves from defense to offense to defense to offense…

You Never Know…

Every person says thousands of words and has thousands of thoughts every single day. Many are good, some are bad, and most are neutral or action based.

Every day, there are one or two words or phrases that we utter that will change someones life. It might be something positive or negative. It may carry very little meaning or weight to you personally. It might seem like an afterthought or something that you didn’t even notice you were saying. But it may make all the difference in the world to someone else.

I experienced a moment like this the other day. One was an affirming comment made off the cuff by a superior and a mentor. It is very likely that the person saying it to me had no idea the true ramifications of their comment, but it sent my confidence skyrocketing and increased my self-belief tenfold.

You never know whose life you might impact with your words. Choose them wisely and never hesitate to build someone up. Confident people have the ability to outperform expectations on a regular basis. Empower those around you and watch their success grow.

How You Do One Thing…

“How you do one thing is how you do everything”

I read a study once that said people who make their bed every morning are better at managing their money and sticking to a budget.

The amount of attention to detail you put into one part of your life carries over to the rest of it. Life is all about habits. If you habitually stay on top of the little details and take care of business in one area, then you will naturally pay attention to detail in other areas of your life.

In recruiting, often the player who appears well-organized, thoughtful and attentive during a recruiting visit is the same player who is coachable and does the little things right on the ice.

It’s no accident that most college student-athletes carry a much higher GPA in season than in the off-season. Their attention to detail is higher and they have a much more fine-tuned focus due to the pressure and intensity of the season and the coaching they are receiving.

Improvement in life is in the details. Place a focus on attention to detail and you will see your success take off.

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