Have you ever been cut? How did you deal with it?
The summer has come and gone and it’s that time of the year again – tryout time! No matter what level of hockey you play, Midget, Junior or the NHL, the beginning of September usually means it’s time to go out on the ice and show your stuff to coaches, management, and evaluators. It is an exciting time of the year as the hockey season ramps up, but its also a stressful time filled with either the joy of being selected for a team or the disappointment of being released or cut.
Throughout my hockey career, I have been cut from teams on numerous occasions. I remember the feelings of disappointment that come along with being released and, in my minor hockey days, going home to my parents with my eyes full of tears, wondering why the coaches didn’t want me on their team. I felt rejected, I questioned the coach’s decisions, and worst of all, I questioned my abilities and myself. Anyone who has experienced being released from a team, and anyone who has experienced failure, can relate to these feelings, and I sympathize with any young player that has to go through this.
Looking back however, I can say with absolute certainty that the failures I have experienced throughout my career, whether it be getting cut from a team or sitting on the bench at the end of a big game, are the best things that could have happened to me. At the time, those failures certainly did not feel good, and I wished so badly that I had made those teams at the time, but the lessons I learned from those experiences are not ones I would have learned anywhere else. When you experience failure, there is an initial period of disappointment and sadness, but that passes and you recover. It is where you decide to go from a moment or instance of failure that will ultimately determine how successful you will be.
I have learned over the course of my career to see failures and obstacles as challenges rather than setbacks. Failure can make you role over and give up, or it can make you stronger. Whenever I was cut from a team or did not get a lot of ice time in a big game, instead of giving up and feeling sorry for myself, I used it as an opportunity to evaluate how I could get better and how it could make me stronger. I used it as a source of motivation to forge ahead and to push myself, because if you accept failure, you won’t get anywhere. I learned more from times of failure than I did from times of success, and I believe this is always the case.
There can be a number of reasons why players are cut from a team, and the decisions that coaches make are completely out of your control. Going into tryouts, what you need to focus on are the things that you can control, and that is what you have done to prepare for these tryouts and what you do on the ice. Instead of thinking about the evaluators and making the team, focus your energy and your efforts on the ice and on playing your absolute best. Yes, you may get cut, you may fail, but what is important is that you are trying. If you do get cut or you do fail, that is okay, because if you haven’t failed then you aren’t trying hard enough.
Set your sights high, not low. If you set them low and go through life being comfortable, you will always succeed, but you will never reach your full potential. To me, failure is a sign that you are pushing yourself beyond your limits and out of your comfort zone, and that is how you get better.
Like many of you, it is tryout time for me as well. I am currently one of 27 players trying out for the 2014 Canadian National Women’s Olympic Hockey Team. Our tryouts began on August 6th and will extend until approximately just before Christmas Day when they will name the team that will represent Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympic in Sochi. I may make the team or I may get cut, that is a decision that the coaching staff will make and one that is out of my control. Throughout this tryout process, I will undoubtedly face obstacles and setbacks, but I will not quit, and I will not give up. I will get knocked down, but I will get back up and continue to push myself beyond my limits each and every day, and I encourage you to do the same.