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Home : Feed Your Spirit : Your Life, Better
11 Life Lessons Learned from Ice Hockey

Written by Dale Rosenberger

Whether you’re a player or a spectator, sports offer a wealth of lessons.  Hockey fan and player Dale Rosenberger, who is also a UCC pastor, shares some insights he’s gained from ice hockey.

Grace and strength meld beautifully.

Hockey is where the Bolshoi Ballet meets the Battle of the Bulge.  Elegantly unfolding plays combine with raw power.  No matter what you do, strive for this.

Team play is the best kind.

Of all major sports, hockey is the ultimate team game.  Ice hockey is less about adulation of individual hero-gods, and more about a community sharing a quest.

Brace and protect yourself against a world of trouble before you engage.

If Ephesians 6 puzzles you with talk about wearing the armor of God---breastplate, sword, shield, and helmet—just watch your girl or boy dress for youth hockey, with all of its equipment, and you’ll get it: preparedness to endure all of the wiles and forces, powers and principalities of the world.

Diversity doesn’t always look like a UNICEF card.

Hockey is a world sport of the north and of mountain lands. So what does the diversity of hockey look like? Players from Slovenia, Siberia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Lithuania, Iceland, Germany, Russia, France, and Switzerland, Canada, and six U.S. states converge.  Faces look similar but each region has its own style, identity, and history.

Courage can be learned only in the crucible.

We think we know ourselves, but we really don’t know what we are like until we are tested. In hockey as in life, people will attempt to exploit our weaknesses; some will want to push us around or push us over.  One way or another, we will have to face up to it. 

If you want to feel a deep glow inside, achieve a goal.

With the rarest of exceptions, the best I’ve ever felt is putting pucks into a net. Get a hat trick (three goals)? You won’t be able to sleep that night. Once you feel that glow, you never forget it. 

Biggest doesn’t mean best.

Hockey is the smallest of the major sports because it’s geographically limited.  But hockey fans are the most tenacious and loyal, and relations between the players and the fans are likely the closest of any sport.

It is unhealthy to hide human wrongdoing and sweep it under the rug.

We all long for a world where wrong is dealt with in the moment, where the offender can atone, and we can move on. In hockey, the penalty box metes out justice explicitly and immediately. The so-called “sin bin” is hockey’s equivalent to our prayer of confession.

Politeness and passion mix well.

Go to Canada for hockey and you'll meet polite, well-mannered players from towns like Peace River and Owen Sound. Then they strap on the equipment and transfigure into Tasmanian Devils.

Life is uneven; deal with it

Unlike baseball, football, or basketball, hockey has a power play where you get to have more players than your opponent.  This happens as one team is penalized and the other gets a power play. Ever feel overmatched and yet vanquish against all odds?  It is exciting.  It is real life.

Be approachable.

Hockey players are grounded and down to earth. Which champion would you rather eat nachos with: Wayne Gretzky or David Beckham?  Anyone?  Anyone? 

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