The Dream - With Brice Geoffrion
I was three years old when I first started skating. Ironically, my father did not want my three older brothers and I to play hockey. He was someone who made it to the NHL and saw the harsh realities of the game, the dirty business aspect to it all. For him, he planned on his boys playing golf, baseball, or anything else that did not involve ice and two inches of steel on a boot. But when he decided to take all of us to the one and only rink in Nashville, TN, those plans drastically changed.
Hockey would suddenly become more than a game to me. It would become my life. The fact that my great-grandfather and grandfather were hall of famers, had their jerseys retired, and won over 7 Stanley cups combined, certainly helped me feel as if my calling was to play this game. Once I made the decision to follow the same path as my brothers and move away from home at the age of 14 to attend Culver Military Academy, I would become obsessed with the sport.
I did not go to Culver for the academics, I went to play hockey (of course in retrospect this could not be any farther from the truth). As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure if you asked every hockey player there why they decided to go to boarding school, the word education and any other synonym was non-existent. Moving away from home to attend a boarding school for intellectual reasons wasn’t the motive. Playing hockey was. And that’s all that mattered.
In my spare time, I wouldn’t study, I would stick handle. If I needed to do a project, I would push it off to the last minute so I could work on my shot. If I had free time, I wouldn’t write that paper, I would go and work out. Summers were spent being on the ice and in the gym every day, for hours on end. Anything and everything I did, was solely for hockey. All I had was a vision of putting on an NHL jersey, and that vision motivated me every day. Hockey was my escape, my oasis. It was the only thing I wanted to do in life. It was all I cared about.
I would be fortunate enough to go on to play four years of division one college hockey for Alabama-Huntsville, where my passion for the game would slowly change. At UAH, we lost. And we lost a lot. My final record after four years would turn out to be 9-118-3. Yes, you read that right. 118 losses and less than ten wins. I knew coming in we would struggle against most teams, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to play D1 hockey, get noticed by a couple of NHL scouts, and live the rest of my life as a professional hockey player. Simple, right?
But that didn’t happen. Instead, I would inevitably experience the harsh realities of the game, the very reason my dad never wanted us to play in the first place. Getting put in the stands over and over, being told I wasn’t good enough, the constant mind games from the coaches, and being beat down mentally and physically almost every weekend as we drove 15 hours on a bus back home with no wins once again, wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned back in high school. Hockey was no longer my oasis. It was literally my hell. After my senior year, I decided to walk away from the game forever.
It has now been almost 20 months since I Iast stepped on the ice, and despite my relative distance from the game, I take with me everyday the values and lessons that hockey taught me as I move forward facing new challenges in my career as an insurance broker in Los Angeles.
Despite the less than positive end to my hockey career, I look back on my time devoted to hockey with fondness. I won’t remember the losses, who scored what goal or who got how many points. I’ll remember my teammates and the bonds we formed through the long bus trips and grueling workouts, bonds that could only be forged through the sweat and blood shed in pursuit of a shared goal.