To The Girl Who Wears My Jersey Next By Caroline Fitzgerald

Dear Number 10:

 

For starters, definitely wash this thing because I never did.

 

Well, I did, but certainly not enough.

 

Before you pick up that sweater, I want you to remember this: hockey is a community sport. You know the hockey kids; you grew up with them; you carpooled; you saw each other at co-ed power skating on Sunday mornings and got dressed in the locker rooms next to one another. The jersey may be for you, but the W on the front is for them.

Hockey has always been a huge part of my life, and I’m sure it’s been a huge part of your’s too. For years I played for the boys team, I never questioned the fact that there were twenty boys and two girls. I just tried out every year. It wasn’t until U12 that I joined the girls team, the program built from hockey dads with girls too old to dress in the boys locker rooms. Those are the years of hockey bags, road trips, hotels, pizza parties and much more I will never forget. The girls I played hockey with then are the girls I played with until my very last game.

My freshman year, the girls hockey team accepted all who tried out, as they have been doing since the team started. With no cuts, three dedicated coaches and twenty five girls who wanted to prove themselves to their school and state, we went on to win the state championship at the Boston Garden in 2014.

Seeing all the highs of that year is what kept me motivated and driven to my senior year. I had been to the top, and I had every intention of returning. The years following, however, were disappointing. In fact, disappointing is an understatement. It was confusing and aggravating seeing a team fall so far. After winning a state championship, we couldn’t even make it to playoffs. We were back, back to square one. Westwood Girls Hockey was a forgotten team again completely falling off everybody’s radar.

Ending junior year with only six wins, my frustration grew but was displaced as motivation. I set forth to become a leader, to grow from what I had experienced in my past three years, from both the ups and the downs. I had a medal placed over my head with the words state champions engraved. I had missed playoffs by a point, and I had missed playoffs by a landslide. I had seen it all, and I wasn’t sure what the future held. All I knew was that I would not give up on the team that had voted me captain, I couldn’t.

Making it to semifinals this year and losing by one goal was the way we seniors went out. I can’t lie. I wanted to make it to the Garden more than I have ever wanted anything, but can honestly say I wouldn’t change this past season. In fact, I wouldn’t trade our losing seasons for anything either. It might sound cliche, but that is how we progress. We take the disappointment and turn it into suicides at 5 am. We take the failure and turn it into service hours at Rosie’s place. The memories both on and of the ice are unforgettable.
So take it in 10, appreciate every moment of your season, because every wear and tear in that jersey represents a dream achieved and a hope for a little girl who was just like you and me, watching in the stands, wanting to play hockey. So don’t wear that jersey for me, wear it for her.

 

Best of Luck,

Caroline Fitzgerald, Number 10

 

Edited By Brett Middleton

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