I know what you are thinking. Why would anyone who plays a sport not want to go pro?
Well, if you are still reading then the title did its job. Of course I wanted to go to the NHL! When I was 7-years old, I was going to be the next Mario Lemieux. It was inevitable.
Fast forward 25 years and I just witnessed the next Mario Lemieux hoist the cup for the second time in consecutive years, and unfortunately, that person was not yours truly.
While it would and probably should be any young hockey player’s dream to be the next Mario Lemieux or Sidney Crosby or Wayne Gretzky, hockey can provide so much more than athletic accomplishments. Hockey can provide life lessons, character building and it can provide a young man or young woman a means to an end.
Let me tell you about myself and why hockey was my life. I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (hence the reference to Le Magnifique and Sid the Kid) and started playing hockey at 3-years old. There were very few days in between where I didn’t pick up a stick. I had a net in my driveway and the local rink’s open hockey schedule committed to memory. I played youth hockey in Pittsburgh, a few years of Junior A and B, and then ended my career at Penn State and playing for Team USA in the World University Games in 2007 and 2009.
I graduated and went to physical therapy school with my girlfriend at the time. We graduated in 2013, got married and bought our first home in 2016. This past October, we opened our own physical therapy clinic in Manasquan, New Jersey — COAST Rehab: Complete Orthopedic and Sports Therapy. Simply put, life is good and we are very blessed.
Hockey is without a doubt a collision sport that can cause acute injury. But, I highly encourage any parent who is considering registering their son or daughter in hockey to do it as soon as possible. Along the way, your son or daughter may sustain an injury or two that they will forget about, but the lessons they will learn along the way will last a lifetime.
Related: Player’s Blog
Competition and Sportsmanship
What is the last thing that happens after every game in youth hockey? I’ll give you a hint – it happens at the end of each playoff series in the National Hockey League.
The handshake. 60 minutes of jaw-dropping, heart-pounding, edge of your seat competitive hockey followed up the ultimate sign of respect? What is better than that?
My wife and I got married a little over a year ago. It was an amazing day shared with family and friends. Most of my wife’s friends and family live near where we got married. Myself on the other hand, had many people travel from far distances to be there on our special day. I’ll give you one guess what most of my friends were. That’s right – former teammates, coaches, billet families, men and women who I played with, fought with, grew up with and won and lost with — all of whom were there to celebrate with us.
Teamwork, Character Building and Education
A team is like a fraternity — a brotherhood — but with any close friendship, differences are inevitable. Lessons of teamwork are no more apparent than when 20 young men or women work together to achieve a common goal. The completion of the goal is important, but the process of achieving it is not far behind. One of the greatest things about the game of hockey is that not only can you use it to learn life lessons, but to receive an education.
I treat patients everyday with the knowledge and education that I developed from institutions that I attended because of my ability to play ice hockey. So, at the end of the day, I am probably not in mid-season form or even pre-season shape for that matter, but the years of playing, competing, learning and growing have conditioned me to embark on a successful career.
I met my wife, got a great education and met people who have helped me develop into the man I am today. Without a doubt, I owe most of these things to the great game of hockey (and my parents of course!)
Written by: Lukas DeLorenzo
Physical Therapist and Owner of COAST Rehabilitation in Manasquan, NJ
Main Image: DeLorenzo in action for Penn State during the 2005-2006 season. (Courtesy of Lukas DeLorenzo)
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