Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone (Part 3)
This post will be a bit different than the last two in that I want to cover some of the cool experiences (hockey-wise) that Culver brought to my life and then I'll wrap things up at the end with the real lessons about getting out of your comfort zone.
** That beauty of a picture is me and my old line mate George Stephan, I'm pretty sure we each autographed a copy in case one of got famous... haha**
The hockey was definitely a step forward and ultimately got me where I wanted to go, an NCAA hockey program.
- My year at Culver was the 2004-2005 season which also corresponded with an NHL lockout. Throughout its history, Culver has had over 20 NHL draft picks. One of those guys was John Michael Liles. Because of the lockout, he was going to play overseas while the NHL tried to figure things out. He had a house on Lake Max and ended up moving into an empty stall in our locker room and practicing and training with our team for about two weeks before he went to Europe. He was an incredibly nice guy. Very down to Earth and easy to talk to. It also was awesome to watch the way he trained and the way he saw the game. Granted, none of us where on his level, but he still made everything look easy. He was smooth and it was a great experience to be around an NHL guy for a few weeks. He also was gracious enough to have us all over to his house for a BBQ. Truly an awesome guy.
- Traveling back east for hockey and playing against some of the long storied prep schools. We ended up traveling to the Boston, New Hampshire/Vermont, Maine areas three separate times to play in tournaments. It was awesome to play some of those other big name programs that everyone knows about like Cushing, Pomfret, Avon Old Farms, Lawrence Academy, Phillips Exeter Academy (which I think is the most expensive prep school in the country...) among others...
- Our rivalry with Shattuck. We played Shattuck 4 times that year and all of them where a good experience. Playing against that caliber of players was definitely getting out of your comfort zone. Players like Jonathan Toews, Kyle Okposo, Taylor Chorney, Chay Genoway...all of which are current NHL/KHL players. Then you mixed in the fact that every other player on that team but two went on to play Division I college hockey or professionally...needless to say they were pretty good. I believe our record against them that year was 1-2-1.
- At Culver I got my first real experience of life on a bus and on the road. We had A LOT of road trips. Our closet away games were a couple hours away in Chicago. We spent a lot of time on the charter bus that season, but those are some of the best times that I got to spend with my teammates. We also didn't have cell phones at Culver so it was a lot of time on the bus just hanging out with the boys, watching movies, or sleeping. I might be missing a few but I know we had road trips to all the following places: Chicago (a few times), Madison, Milwaukee, Faribault MN, Cleveland (Gilmour Academy), Michigan (a few times), along with trips to Boston, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Dallas. It was a lot of travel but it was an amazing experience that I would have never gotten without Culver.
- Becoming teammates with players from all over the country. We were truly a mixed group with literally guys coming from all over the country to make our team. We had guys from California, Wisconsin, Missouri, Florida, New York, Illinois, Tennessee just to name a few. That experience proved to me that if you can get a group of guys together that all buy in to the same cause and are willing to work towards the same end goal, amazing success can happen. Also, just being able to play with other good players was extremely beneficial. Three quarters of the players on that team went on to play NCAA hockey at either the Division I or Division III level.
- One of the biggest things I took from Culver was learning how to win. I had had some success growing up, but I never really learned how to win. It might sound a little crazy but I firmly believe that winning is something that you learn how to do. Culver taught me this. It taught me that you have to have a fierce hunger and expectation to win, but that you have to be willing to put everything you have into it to be successful. I learned how to go into every game we played expecting to win. I learned how to rely on my teammates when I was having an off day, and on the flip side, be able to pick them up when they needed it. I learned how to be a great teammate and understand my role. It was my first experience where guys didn't complain about being a 3rd or 4th line guy, but instead knew the importance of their role on the team. They knew that in order for us to win they had to pull their weight and do their job just as much as the guys who were getting more ice time and expected to score more goals. I also learned how to fight until the end and never give in. Most people give up when things get tough. Culver ingrained it in my head to never give up and to never stop exploring ever option until there is no time left. As long as their was time left, their was an opportunity.
- I could literally keep going on but I think you get the point...
As you can tell from the past few blog posts, Culver was a big impact in my life. I learned a lot of life lessons that year. At the time, I don't think I realized it but looking back at it now, it definitely was the best thing for me.
It made me grow up. It made me leave home and the comfort and protection of my parents and experience life on my own. The military aspect proved the importance of discipline and honoring your commitments. It taught me about what real hard work is. It taught me that most people try to convince themselves that they're working hard or going all in, but really it's just a mind trick that we play on ourselves to make ourselves feel better. Culver taught me how to work through that and push myself farther and harder than I thought I could.
Plain and simple, Culver helped me become a man and I'm extremely proud to say that I am an alumni of that school and that it's always a great day to be an Eagle.