Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone (Part 1)
I recently talked briefly about my experience going to school and playing hockey for Culver Academy.
That year turned out to be one of the best growing moments of my whole life and had a huge impact on my life, not just my hockey career.
My senior year of high school was filled with a lot of big decisions, just like it is for so many other seniors. Although mine were a bit different. Instead of contemplating where I would go to college the next year, I was figuring out where I was going to play hockey next.
Like most hockey players, my first option was to go play juniors. I had a few offers and some interest but was very unsure of the process and what would end up being the best fit for me.
But I'm a big believer that things work out for a reason, and my hockey career was no different. I ended up meeting and talking to a guy who was a scout for Culver Academy. He saw me play a few times and wanted to know if I had ever thought about going to prep school? The thought had never really crossed my mind but I was open to anything that would help my hockey career go to the next level. So my dad and I accepted his offer to go to Culver for a visit. See the school, skate with the team and see what I thought.
As to be expected, I was excited about the opportunity but extremely nervous at the same time. It was a military school and had the reputation of being one of the top hockey programs in the country every year, so definitely a little nerve wracking. (I also remember that my parents made me cut my long 'flow' that I had been growing all season... brutal, haha.)
Anyways, the visit was eye opening to say the least. The campus and facilities were amazing. A sprawling campus right on a lake in the middle of the corn fields of Indiana. A two sheet ice rink on campus, professional style locker rooms, training rooms, workout facilities...it was unreal to say the least. Oh and did I mention that they gave you free gear?! If you're a hockey player, regardless of what level you play at, new gear day is always the best day.
The academics were also something of another level. Do you ever wonder where all the kids come from that go to big name Ivy League schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton...? I know I used to wonder that stuff all the time because I had never met anyone who went to a school like that. Well I learned quickly that people who went to school at Culver attended schools like that on a regular basis. Needless to say, the academics were impressive.
My dad and I were staying in a little cottage that was on campus. I remember after visiting the school and meeting with advisors, going on tours, meeting the coaching staff, and skating with the team that this was incredible but I wasn't sure it was for me.
I was really unsure about the military part of it. I mean you woke up everyday to a cannon being fired off over the lake...no joke. Then you had 15 minutes to be down in front of the dorms (barracks as they liked to call them). All to stand in uniform, in formation, get inspected by the XO (executive officer) and then march to breakfast in the mess hall with the rest of the school.
Talk about a potential lifestyle change...
I remember making excuses to my dad and saying things like "this is an awesome place, but I don't think it's for me", or trying to use the excuse "we're just simple people from Arvada, CO, we're not on the same social status as these people". While my dad agreed to an extent, I think we both agreed to let things sink in and not make any rash decisions.
Over the next few weeks, my parents and I talked about the big decision a lot. They were extremely supportive but wanted me to ultimately make the decision. It was obviously a HUGE financial commitment from my parents, but they never let on about any of that because I know they didn't want that to influence my choice. Having perspective and looking back on it all now, I really realize how fortunate I was (and still am) to have such supportive parents who were willing to do whatever in order to support my dreams. So a huge thank you to both my parents, you guys really are the best.
Needless to say, I decided to attend Culver. It was a smaller school which I thought would be a better fit for me and I also liked the idea of staying in school instead of taking a year or two off and then trying to start again whenever I went to college. Plus, the hockey would be a big step up and give me the necessary exposure to hopefully get an opportunity on the NCAA level.
I ultimately decided that I needed to get out of my comfort zone, stop making excuses and embrace the new challenge and journey. I realized that if I wasn't willing to make a big change/move like this then I was never going to be able to achieve my dream of playing college hockey.
So it was time to pack my one set of civilian clothes (yes, I only brought one pair of jeans and one shirt, everything else would be provided) and my hockey bag and make the 1,000 trek to Indiana.
I will release Part 2 on 12/14.