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An open letter to athletes affected by a cancelled season

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Detroit Red Wings v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Dear athletes who have been affected by a cancelled season due to the Coronavirus Pandemic,

The news of playoffs and seasons coming to a screeching halt caught everyone off guard this week. If you had told me at the beginning of 2020 multiple sports would abruptly end their seasons, I would have called you crazy. Yet, here we are, two and half months into 2020 reeling from cancelled competitions, playoffs, and seasons.

For some of you, this was your last chance to put your skills on display for the scouts in the stands. As a player on the verge of being discovered, losing the rest of a season or a run at playoffs can be a huge blow to your career. I know many bubble athletes are sitting there thinking about the things you could have done better this past season. You’re likely worried because it’s no longer in your hands anymore. The waiting game has begun and you have no choice but to wait to see how things shake out.

Here’s the thing you must try to remember. All the early mornings in the weight room, the extra practice time you put in on weekends while your friends were off partying, and the nights you spent sleeping on a bus have paid off. Your dedication to your sport drove you to where you stand today. These are the kind of things which shape you to be a better person. This level of work ethic, dedication, and passion will help you in the future.

Maybe, just maybe, someone will tell the scouts about your work ethic. They might say “you know on the ice/court/field they still have some kinks to work out BUT off the ice/court/field they have the tools to make it happen. They have the want, will, and desire to do it.” So, hold tight. Your moment may be just around the corner.

Then, there are those who knew this season was their last. This was supposed to be your swan song. You were supposed to go out in a blaze of glory not a whimper in the night. For years to come, you were going to beam with excitement as you reminisced about your team’s magical playoff run. You were going to be able to say “I was a part of a legacy of winning”. Unfortunately, this future will never come to fruition.

However, it wasn’t all for naught. Deep, long lasting relationships were created between teammates. Together you saw things you never thought you would see. You pushed your body and your mind to the limits. You never gave up and for that you should be proud of yourself. Those are the intangibles you can put into action as you grow older. Now, you are able to share the the things you have learned from your coaches, from your teammates, and from yourself with everyone you meet.

While you didn’t battle for a trophy in front of 18,000 fans, 1,000 fans, or any number of fans, you at least have this. While it may be hard to fathom, you will one day look back and smile as you realize the incredible person you became along the way.

No matter what category you fall under there is one thing I urge you not to forget. It is hands down the most important thing to keep at the forefront of your mind right now. Over the course of this season, many young children have watched your every move. After watching you lay it out on the playing field night after night, they aspire to be like you when they grow up. These children have begged their parents to buy the same equipment you use, they have practiced your celebrations in the mirror of their bathroom or bedroom, and they have learned the ins and outs of the game you love. All of this happened due to the deep passion and love you have for being an athlete.

Whether you know it or not, you have shaped the next generation of athletes with your passion and dedication to your sport. So, while a shot at the trophy is nice, what’s even better are the lives you have changed and the sport you have shaped along the way.

So, now the next challenge you will face is how you will handle adversity staring you straight in the eye. Will you crumble and wilt? Or will you rise? Will you take what has been given and learn from it? Will you work harder? Will you live more in the moment knowing that it can be taken away in a snap of a finger?

Your answers to these questions will decide your next path in life.

I have faith you will pick the right one.

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