Sunday, December 23, 2007

Hockey From The Minors To The Stanley Cup

Charlie was a boy who grew up in the plains of Nebraska in the small town of Gretna, just outside of Omaha. As a small boy he fell in love with hockey. It was difficult for Charlie to play the sport because he was born with a lung disorder that made it hard for him to breathe in cold weather. As Charlie got older, he was able to play more due to the medical, rehabilitation, and medication advancements that would take place.

While a small boy it was difficult for Charlie to get used to the fact he couldn’t play the game as much as he wanted. He didn’t stay away from the game though; he played as much as he could, advancing and improving on basic skills. Charlie did not play the game on the ice as much as he wanted. He did take time to watch the game, learning basics and strategy. He learned when to make appropriate substitutions, when to make defensive or offensive changes and other strategic aspects of the game. Charlie was learning things that would enable him to someday show off the totality of his skills. Learning these things at a young age matured him in a way most hockey players didn’t until they were much older.

As Charlie got older, his skills got better, and he was eventually able to play hockey more. As a result of his efforts to improve his basic skills, learning the strategy of the game, he became an exceptional player. Eventually, he became good enough in high school that he would go to college on a scholarship. While in college Charlie perfected his skills, learning to deal and work with his weaknesses. He became a productive and quality player for the limited time he was on the ice, and growing up with the health problems he had.

After college, Charlie went on to play 7 years of professional hockey in the minor leagues. From Tulsa to Wichita, and from Shreveport to Omaha, he made the circuit. Charlie was never able to break into the NHL as a player but he was able to eventually become a coach. Charlie had dreamed of coaching in the NHL. In his 4th year of coaching Charlie made it to the big show, going to the Stanley Cup where his team ended up winning the Cup in 5 games.

Charlie went on to coach for 14 years in the NHL before retiring. Later on, after being placed in the Hall of Fame he shared his story of how his infirmities had enabled him to learn the game in a way he never expected. This allowed him to become the player and strategist which allowed him to go on and coach 3 NHL Stanley Cup Champions over those 14 years.

We are all born with some form of imperfection or weakness that holds us back. It is the champions who learn how to adapt, work around those imperfections and ultimately accomplish their dreams and aspirations. Just as in the case with Charlie, we can all accomplish the things in life that are important to us. The questions become, do we give up? Do we quit? Do we attempt to excel in areas outside of our natural desires? Do we focus on the negatives, or work to change them? I have found that in my own life, God moves and shakes us to places beyond our dreams, if we will listen, and if we are moved to action as opposed to inaction. What will you do? Who will you become? How will you be remembered? You can be more, expect more, have more, and be remembered more while walking with God, as opposed to on your own. Make the right choice, move on. Excel despite the problems, become the person God wants you to be.

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