5 years ago, my life changed. I was in my final year of college and was struggling with many aspects of my life. I had no clue who I wanted to be and felt there was something missing in my life. But I had no clue what it was.
A good family friend invited my sister and I to come out and see the special needs hockey team he coached. So there we are, 2 extremely anxious girls, go to the rink with our skates. The rest is basically history. 5 seasons later, we are both assistant coaches and on the board of directors.
We spend 3 hours on the ice almost every Saturday from September until the beginning of April. We travel with the team to away games and attend every team event. We coach individuals between the ages of 5 – 50 with physical and developmental disabilities. This year we have 59 players registered, and split into 3 teams. A learn to skate team, a junior team and a senior team. They all proudly wear the Ice Hounds logo.
We get thank yous and praise for doing what we do. But I should be thanking the players and their families. This team has given me hope and filled that empty space. There’s been Saturdays that this team is the only reason I get out of bed. The players bring such joy to my life and have taught me so much. Life is so much about celebrating the little things and the little victories.
I’ll never forget playing in Peterborough last year and I was having a bad day. I started crying on the bench during the senior game and one of my players looked at me and said “Coach Hilary, don’t cry. It’s going to be okay and you’re too pretty to cry.”
These players accept me for who I am and all my quirks. Coaching them is an absolute pleasure and I thank them for changing my life.