I want you to take a moment and pretend that you don’t know these kids or coaches.
They are all strangers.
You don’t know their skill, their talents, their moves.
You don’t know their last name, their number, or their father.
Study their faces.
Look into their eyes.
Look deep into what you can see here.
Which one scored the most goals? Who is the fastest? Who can skate backwards best? Who has been skating the longest? Who has just recently dared to give the sport a try and give it their all? Who can weave through four defenders? Who has the strongest slap shot? Who can stop the most pucks in mid-air?
Who puts in a lot of time cheering on their teammates? Who gets the most pats on the shoulder after giving their teammate water? Whose butt keeps the bench from getting dusty? Which one describes their teammate as tough? And who is the tough one? Which player gives the most encouragement from the bench?
Which skater is the happiest? The funniest? The most supportive? The sweetest? The smartest? The wisest? The most fun? The weirdest? The quietest?
Who has the most expensive stick? Who has the newest gloves? Who has the coolest helmet? Who’s bag cost the most? Who is the best? Who is the worst? Who got the most playing time?
You can’t tell? That’s right, you cannot tell. Right now, in this moment, none of that matters. It doesn’t matter today or tomorrow, and it won’t matter in 20 years. All that matters is that we are ONE. Not first, but one. We are a team. We train together. We learn together. We work together. We work HARD together. We laugh together. We nourish our bodies together. We make mistakes and lift each other up. We laugh at ourselves, and sometimes each other, but together. We are silly together. We appreciate each other. We are nobody by ourselves. We would fail alone and without each other.
We are one.
We are a team.
We are the Gladiators.