Ice Hockey and Computer Science: My Diverging Passions

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When people think of me they think of a hockey player: an athletic, aggressive kid who is always out on pond somewhere in the Canadian wilderness. They would never think of me as someone who likes to sit at a desk and write software, and be immobile for hours at a time. This is the dilemma that I struggle with currently, as I am part of two contrasting groups: hockey and computer science.

Ice hockey is an environment where the kids are constantly moving. The majority of my teammates are rarely caught doing homework, and can normally be found skating at the rink, or working out at the gym. In fact, most hockey players are at the bottom of the class when it comes to grades, and can barely move on to the next grade level when summer comes around. This is not the case for me though. I am one of the most studious players on my team. Players will come to me for homework help before practice. Moreover, I am always the one skipping parties after we win games to study for a test the next day or finish up on some reading. My teammates can never understand why I don’t participate in social gatherings and team workouts on weekends. These are all sacrifices I must make to be part of a more educated group of computer engineers.

Throughout most of my free time not spent playing hockey, I am at a computer lab with my friends writing programs. This group comprises of completely different people than that of my hockey team. My computer friends would never be seen outside running around on a field, or even attempting to ice skate. Just like my hockey team revolving only around hockey, this group strictly involves computers, and computers only.

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My hockey team has become a group where I am always comfortable. I am able to share many opinions with my teammates, and can be vocal when I choose. Unlike, many other aspects of life, my hockey team is a place where my opinions are truly respected, and because of that, many of teammates will follow my instruction. However, I am one of the players with the most experience, so this should be a given. Moreover, my skill level also adds to my teammates’ abilities to trust my decisions. If I were to express my ideas as vocally as I do on my hockey team in other environments, they might not be taken as seriously. For example, there are times when I am in a group to work on a school project, and whenever I voice my ideas, they are immediately turned down without any thought. It is not until I prove to people that I can make viable decisions, that they might actually start listening.

This was the case with my hockey team. Originally, I was a young, inexperienced player, who would always make mistakes and crack under pressure. There was no way I was capable of expressing myself at the time because my knowhow was not proven yet. Now, after many years of following others, I am finally capable of taking on a leadership role on my team. My decisions will no longer be regarded as nonsense. Instead, the choices I make will be respected and followed because I have finally gained the trust of my teammates. Similarly, I have also taken on a leadership role in my computer science group. The majority of the members of this group are not very social, and thus cannot voice their opinions very well. This is why they rely on my social skills to make decisions for the group, and make sure that our projects are going in the right direction.

At times throughout my life, I did not believe that I could be part of these two groups simultaneously. Additionally, I truly thought that I would have to choose one group and leave the other for the rest of my life. When I was in 8th grade, I had to bring my computer science homework to hockey practice one night. I had a lot of work to do, and there was no way that I would be able to get it done before school the next day. My teammates were all getting dressed, and I was sitting in a corner typing rapidly into my computer. This seemed a little odd to them, as they were all used to procrastinating and saving their homework until five minutes before class started. Eventually, they decided to come over and see what I was doing. When they saw that I was typing in some “strange, broken” English, they did not know what to think. Ultimately, they concluded that it was something to make fun of because they knew that it was a task that they would never be able to do.

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