Hockey not only unites Canadians from all over the country, but gives many Canadian youth a passion! Youth of Canada wants to acknowledge that passion and address the impact of hockey on Canadians. Recently, Youth of Canada reached out to a young Canadian hockey players to share their stories.
Hi there, my name is Ahad Kasamali and this is my story about hockey.
I was once told “just do what you love” and since then I have devoted a significant amount of time participating in ice hockey. However, getting the chance to play and earning the Captaincy was no easy task. Growing up in a South Asian household meant that sports like cricket and soccer were the pre-dominant sports while I was growing up. I began playing soccer at an early age, but I quickly grew out of it and the alternative I found, hockey, instantly became my passion. With hockey being more of a contact sport and generally rougher than soccer, my parents were hesitant to let me watch it on television, let alone play it. I began playing ball hockey and it was a very exciting time. In spite of this, I was still adamant on playing ice hockey, but my parents were hesitant because of the cost and toll it can take on you both physically and mentally. When “the” opportunity arose, I took full advantage of it. Unfortunately, following my passion was not easy as I had started playing ice hockey later than others, at the age of 12.
My first year of ice hockey was indeed a struggle because I had to teach myself how to skate and seeing others being fully able to skate while I was struggling to keep my balance was definitely a huge mental barrier to breakthrough but once I became proficient in that, everything else came naturally. As my confidence grew, so did my skill set and I was able to really feel what every other kid playing hockey feels, composed and comfortable.
In my fourth year, I was honoured with the “A”, however, this was the season where my parent’s worst fears came to fruition. I was on the receiving end of a cheap shot and sustained a concussion half way through the season but thankfully I was able to recover and join my team for the playoffs where I was able to help lead them to a championship. The following year I was honoured with the “C” and that was arguably my best season in terms of leadership growth and performance.
But this season was not without its struggles, I sustained another concussion after getting elbowed in the head and this one took a heavier toll on me, mentally, but after recovering I rejoined my team and with the boost of the Captain being back, we won a second straight championship. In my last year, I received the “A” and our team played at a higher level than we have ever played before and with the team’s cohesiveness, we reached the championship game for a third year in a row. But as some might say “No Pain, No Gain”, and that is exactly what happened in the championship game. In the final period of the game, I was on the receiving end of a nasty slash that resulted in a dislocated knee cap. Despite this, our team continued on and won the game!
In the off season, I was eager to keep playing hockey, so I played ball hockey in high school, where I held the position of Captain for Grades 11&12, and in the Ismaili Ball Hockey League (IBHL). The IBHL is an adult league for men and women, 16+, however most of the players are older than that, around 30. I was able to meet a lot of new people through this league and coming together to play a sport we all love is just icing on the cake. Playing in this league has definitely allowed me to hone my ball hockey skills and as a 17-year-old, I was able to be top five in the league in points. The impact hockey has had on me is irreversible, although I have sustained two concussions and a dislocated kneecap while playing, I am still eager to keep playing throughout university and beyond. Most athletes who want to achieve great things dedicate themselves and put in extreme amounts of work, to the outside world it may look like pain, but that pain is satisfaction. Playing hockey is no easy task, however, in order to push myself to play, despite injuries and such, I kept telling myself that I just need to be better than I was yesterday, and I was able to achieve so much.