When I arrived here in Grade 8, I was honestly terrified, mostly because I was going to play hockey with 18 year olds, when I was only 13. I was wondering if they would accept me, if I’d fit in, or if they would look down on me.
Looking back, I don't remember any of that happening. All I do remember is: Emily Holmes teaching me how to tape my pads properly, Audrey McCutcheon pushing me to run until I couldn't feel my legs anymore, or Dominique Cormier showing me how to dance (although, that didn’t lead to much).
Finally, when the year came to an end, my teammate Audrey Choi wrote an individual message to every single girl on the team. On mine, she wrote: "Thank you for consistently being a caring teammate. I know you will continue to rise into a powerful defenseman. Trust the process, but do not forget to advocate for yourself. I love you kiddo."
I know it doesn’t seem like much. But, to me, it meant everything. It brought me confidence, joy, and it taught me that the smallest, simplest things you do, can have a huge impact on others. Not only that, but the little things you do shape who you are, and who you’ll become.
Most of us have extremely busy lives. With school, sports and homework, it’s hard to find the time to do the little things. Well, I'm here to tell you: take the time, it's worth it. Things as simple as hugging your friend, thanking your teachers, helping your younger sibling with their homework, telling Josh the rink guy that he sharpened your skates flawlessly, they all make a difference.
When you go to Ontario or to the US, they have tolls on the highway. Nearly every time my dad and I pass through them, the previous person paid for us, and it makes my day, every time. Then, we pay for the next person, and so on. A simple dollar can make our world better.
You might tell yourself: others won't notice, others won't care, others won't appreciate it. And you know what? Some might not care. And often, people won't notice at all. But you don't do it for those people. You do it for those who care, even if they’re the minority. You do it because that's what differentiates normal from special. You do it to become a better version of yourself, every day. And, who knows, you might inspire others to do the same.
So take the time to do the little things. Clean up the rugby balls after practice, hold the door for someone, make your roommate’s bed. And you’ll make our world a better place, one little thing at a time.