When Girls Love Hockey

By Jenelyn Russo

When Girls Love Hockey


As December quickly comes to a close, I find myself, as most people do, reflecting back on the on the moments and memories that defined the year for me.

And as my mind carefully rolled over each piece of my 2013 story, I realized that this year was the first year in a long while that was filled with both extremely intense highs and lows.

There were so many positive things that happened for me, both personally and professionally. And it seemed that for each of those wonderful days I experienced, there were other days that were equally as difficult. It made for one very dynamic and emotional year.

One of the moments that stands out for me happened just a few weeks ago when I flew east to the city of Boston to watch the Ducks play as they visited the Bruins at TD Garden.

But in all honesty, my trip there had less to do with hockey and much more to do with keeping my emotional sanity.

The months leading up to that October trip were hard months. I spent most of my summer dealing health issues, and for those of you who live with chronic disease of any kind, you know the struggles that can accompany that battle.

At the same time, I came alongside my friend as she and her family dealt with some news that both broke our hearts and stretched our faith in ways I could have never imagined.

So during a time when I am typically recharging my batteries on the sand and under the sun of our beautiful Orange County beaches, I was instead riding an emotional rollercoaster that about gave me whiplash with its twists and turns.

It was exhausting.

When September and the new school year arrived, instead of being refreshed and rejuvenated, I was depleted and dry.

And as the calendar crept closer to Halloween and I stared down that quickly approaching tunnel of holiday chaos, it felt like a vice grip on my head, tightening with each day.

A friend recently referenced it as “living on the very edge of the envelope.” And I had been living on the edge of that envelope for far too long. I knew I needed to do something.

At about that same time, the opportunity came up for me to go to Boston and attend the Ducks/Bruins game with full media access.

So it took it.

At a time when I was weary, and craved some time away, I did something I had never done—I took a trip, by myself, doing something that I love, so that I could take care of me.

It was amazing. And it did wonders for my soul.

The Boston air was clear and crisp and cool. I caught the very end of the glorious colors that blanket that part of the country during the fall season, and for this California girl, it was captivating.

I filled my days there with experiences unique to the city and its love for the sport of hockey. I rode the subway to North Station. I had lunch at one of the most popular sports bars in the country, The Fours, where I ate a “Bobby Orr” steak and cheese sandwich. And then I visited the defenseman’s famous statue that sits out in front of the arena, capturing the moment of his game-winning overtime goal against the St. Louis Blues to clinch the 1970 Stanley Cup.

I sat in the black and gold seats of the lower bowl for the Ducks morning skate, and spoke with head coach Bruce Boudreau and some of the players in the dressing room following their practice.

A huge, impressive space, TD Garden may be a newer arena, but it is filled from end to end with countless reminders of the Bruins rich 90-year history and the club’s undeniable contribution to the NHL. And the entire organization was welcoming.

That night, I watched the October 31 tilt between two of the best teams in the league seated next to one of my dearest friends, Shawn Hutcheon, who covers the Bruins for The Fourth Period. There isn’t anyone I know personally who knows more about the game of hockey than Shawn. Despite the Ducks’ shootout loss, it was an honor to watch our teams play alongside him.

I tried my best to take it all in, grateful for every moment. And being able to have a short break from my typical responsibilities at home brought some healing to my body, heart and mind that I desperately needed.

When I arrived home to the hugs of my husband and daughters, I was thankful for the time away, but I knew this is where I needed to be. I had a few tinges of “mommy guilt” during those four days, but you know what? My girls were fine. They enjoyed Halloween with their friends, just like they do each year. They got extra helpings of “daddy/daughter” time. And their eyes were opened just a bit to “all that mommy does around here.” I call that a win.

As I think back over that adventure, with a much clearer head, I’m grateful for all I experienced and how it changed me for the better.

I’m thankful for friends who are even more wonderful in person than they are over the miles, and for those same friends who get me and my love for the sport of hockey.

I’m thankful for my husband, who understands me well enough to know that I needed to make that trip, and for family and friends who graciously stepped in to help with my girls. I couldn’t have (and wouldn’t have) done it without their support.

I think taking time to reflect back on what has happened over the course of a year is a good thing. I learned that it is often in the difficult times that we do the most growing, something I already knew, but lived out in a very real way this year. I learned that solitude is not a bad thing, and neither is setting aside some time to take care of ourselves.

And most of all, I discovered that for each dark day, there is a bright day ahead. I’m grateful for all of them, every moment—the good days and the hard days—for it is in the weaving together of these moments that we make a life.

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