Hello! My name is Grant Lewis and I am a defenseman for the Chicago Wolves. I am your replacement blogger for the time being as my teammate Jamie Rivers recently had his fourth child and has been quite busy to say the least; so I want to start off my congratulating him and wishing him the best. Four children? At my age I don't know much about parenting or trying to keep an eye on four children, but I can imagine that is quite the job. So again, congratulations to Jamie and his wife.
First a little about myself; I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My parents still reside there and I try to make it back to see them as much as I can. I spent all of my childhood and was lucky enough to finish high school there as well. In my profession, that is unusual as many of my teammates were forced to move and leave their hometown in order to pursue their dreams of becoming a professional hockey player. Growing up, I spent most of my time on the ice playing for the Pittsburgh Hornets and my senior year of high school I played "Juniors" for the Pittsburgh Forge. After high school, I continued my education and hockey experiences playing for Dartmouth College. Dartmouth is located in Hanover, NH, so similar to many of you Chicagoans, I know what it is like to hibernate indoors throughout these cold winters. During my college career, I was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2004, and am currently playing for the Wolves, Atlanta's minor league affiliate.
Well, on Wednesday night, as many of you may or may not know, against the Toronto Marlies, we broke a seven game losing streak. We ended up beating them in a shootout so it was a little closer than we would have liked, but we were very happy to get those two points. Our conference and more specifically our division is always such a tight race, so although we are only half way through the season, these points are very important.
Playing for the Wolves has been a great experience for me so far. While most AHL affiliates are in existence to show young and developing players the ropes of professional hockey, the Wolves are much different. With the Wolves, you learn less about the differences between amateur and professional hockey, but more about "winning." For as long as the Wolves have been in existence, I know that we pride ourselves on "winning", not only individual games, but championships as well. We are coming off of a championship season and similar to every other season, the expectations are high, and with a solid returning core from last season, a few very skilled additions, and a highly touted new coaching staff, our expectations for this season should be nothing but the highest. Returning with our new coaches, Don Granato and Jason Christie, and our other assistant coach, Chicago's finest, Wendell Young. Wendell was a huge part in our success last year and has been a huge part of the Wolves success for years dating back to when he was a player himself.
With the expectations set high, our recent losing streak was not a very pleasant time, not only for us as players, coaches and management, but also for our fans. But just like most Chicago fans, our fans have stayed extremely loyal through these rougher times, which we are all very thankful for.
Being a professional athlete is an interesting occupation to pursue. While most people look at professional athletes on a whole and think how lucky they have it to be playing a sport or game that they love for their living, it is not as easy as it sounds. Professional athletes are often considered living their lives "in the spotlight." This is true in many cases as you often hear and read about athletes in the newspaper, whether it be about performances on or off the rink, arena or field. So as an athlete I can tell you, life is good and I personally would not have it any other way, but at the same time, there are many ups and downs and I would like to spend a moment to talk about this. Adversity...a very touchy subject in this profession, but it is something that is very influential to every team. We have faced a lot of adversity over the last few weeks considering our losing streak. It has not been the most pleasant environment coming to the rink everyday with a locker room filled with negative energy and changing personnel. I guess this is the nature of professional sports along with life and businesses on a whole. I will touch on this more in a little. But adversity, all sports teams at every level face it. I believe that great teams are not defined by adversity or lack there of, but are defined in the team's response. With this being said, this next few games and continuing throughout the season, we will see how our team responds. Will we dwell on the lack of success which we have been having or will bounce back and continue the "winning" tradition of the Wolves? I guess only time will tell....
I think we all face adversity within our own individual careers and before I go, I want to touch quickly on my statement from before when I said, "I guess this is the nature of professional sports along with life and businesses on a whole." If you, or your teammate or fellow employee is not performing to his/her potential, they are replaced with someone who is. As uneasy as that may sound, it's the truth. When it comes to our jobs, everyone is replaceable. So my advice to you is work hard, whether it be a simple or complex task, do it to the best of your ability, but don't get caught up in it to the point where you can't enjoy other aspects of your life.
I want to leave you with this story. My sister sent this story to me a long time ago, but it has stuck with me and I want to now pass it along to you. I am not sure who wrote it or where it came from, but it is titled "Two Glasses of Wine". It speaks a lot about adversity and the tough times we all experience throughout a lifetime. I hope you enjoy it.
TWO GLASSES OF WINE
When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 glasses of wine...
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.
He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes."
The professor then produced two glasses of wine from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things; your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions; things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full."
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else; the small stuff.
"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "There is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you."
"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. Do one more run down the ski slope. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first; the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the wine represented.
The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of glasses of wine with a friend."
Remember, while you are replaceable when it comes to your job, you are nowhere near replaceable when it comes to your family and friends. Whatever your career may be, again, do it to the best of your ability, but as bad as your day of work may ever be, be thankful for the people who mean the most to you. When many of us face adversity in our life, we often want to crawl up into a ball and push everything and everyone else away, but we should be doing just the opposite. We must always embrace the people and things that matter most to us, especially during troubled times. For all of us, our time will eventually come to an end and I promise you that at that moment, when life seem to have passed us by, you will not reflect on those bad days at work, but more on the relationships you have made and the time spent with the people who you care about the most.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this first blog. I have never done this before and I know may have taken off on a bit of a tangent, but what can you do. Have a great weekend and if you have any questions or comments about anything, please feel free to write. I am interested in your perspective and your thoughts so that when I write my next blog, I will know in which direction I should head. Thank you very much for your time.