Today’s blog finds me sitting in an absolutely beautiful small town in Vermont, USA. I’m in the quaint community of Stowe, made famous by the Sound of Music’s Von Trapp family. It’s the time of year for our annual Hockey Ministries International (HMI) Conference. HMI personnel from all over North America are gathering here for three days of prayer, sharing our thoughts and our hearts. HMI represents chaplains from every hockey league on the continent from Junior on up to professional leagues.
It is an honour to be a part of this sports ministry group, in that I have the privilege of assisting hockey players in so many off-ice, real life situations. I have found that there are many, many stresses that come with the territory of being an elite level hockey player. To help players, to care for them in their personal trials is very rewarding. It is also incredibly fulfilling to see players grow in maturity and in life choices and in many cases in their understanding of the love of Christ..
Our first Warriors chapel last week was a great start, with almost the entire team attending. Again, I was overwhelmed at my sense of care for the guys, in all kinds of situations It is also great to offer chaplaincy care when many players are far from home. (Although caring for local hockey players is a joy s well.)
One of the pressures that many hockey players feel is the reality of making a team roster and sticking there. Whether in pros or juniors, pretty much every time someone is added to a team, someone will be going. With a set amount of players on a roster, for most guys it is a lot of work just to stay with their clubs. The pressures at trading deadlines, draft days, training camps is very stressful on not only players but also their families. (I have to admit, there have been times unfortunately when parents have added more stress not less….) This pressure is pretty much unavoidable, it just a part of the game that we all accept.
I have a name for this process: I call it The Domino Effect. When player movement happens, it’s fairly certain that someone at the end of the row falls off somewhere. That is where I pray for strength for the guys in this great game, so that they can face the realities of what it means to be a hockey player.
That’s one of many reasons why chapel is such a great resource for hockey teams. The team bonding, the prayer huddle, the discussion is really a lifeline and a stabilizing factor for them. I am so glad to serve this hockey club in the way that I do. I pray that it affects the guys for the rest of their lives.
Allow me to finish with the: I am so very proud of our team, they really are wonderful young men.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
In Christian faith, Chaplain D