How Hockey, and the Caps, Helped Save My Life

Posted June 7, 2017

Writer’s note, I did seek professional help and this is in no way a substitute to professional help.

I know this can seem very abstract, but if it was not for hockey, I am not sure where I would be right now. When I was in middle school, I was harassed and bullied so much, I could not attend my public high school for my first two years. There weren’t many things that made me happy during this time. There was one consistent thing (except for part of the 2012-13 year) I could always count on: Hockey.

As I wrote last year, I grew up with the game and grew up watching Alex Ovechkin. There’s more to it than just this. Like I said, I was bullied a lot in middle school and hockey was my way to escape. It was my happy place. Year in, year out, from October through April, there was a Caps game (just about) every other night. When the Capps were not playing, I would still watch whatever games were on NBCSN or NHL Network and just enjoy the beauty of the game. For three hours a day, sometimes more when I went to games, I could drown out everything else I was going through and just focus on the game.

The next day, after wins, I would always wear my Ovechkin jersey. I know it sounds stupid, but when I would wear the jersey, I felt like I could conquer anything that came my way. I felt like I could endure all the bullying I had to face. I felt as if, despite my stature, I could be as strong as Ovechkin. That I could just run over someone that got in my way and tried to stop me from reaching my goal.

When someone asked me where I felt the happiest, the answer was always the same. Verizon Center. It was a second home to me, being in the same seats for my entire life with the same people to the left and to the right of me. It did feel like home. At the games, the only thing I cared about was trying to cheer the Caps to a victory. Nothing else mattered for those 60 minutes of hockey. I could just forget about everything else going on in my life.

Today I am graduating high school. A moment that I did not think would happen at one point. I have put most of what I went through behind me, and it has made me who I am today. Was hockey the only thing that kept me going? Of course not. Bonding over hockey is why I’m friends with some of the people I am friends with. Writing here on this site for the last two years has also helped me realize what I want to do in my life. Although I might be 500 miles from home next year at the University of South Carolina, it won’t stop me from keeping up to date on the sport, and the team, that has given me a new life, and that has meant so much to me.