Breathless | Teen Ink

Breathless MAG

August 9, 2012
By allycat8213 BRONZE, Washington, Pennsylvania
allycat8213 BRONZE, Washington, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 1 comment

I hit one knee on the ice, placing most of my weight on my stick. I try to take a few deep breaths, but that is easier said than done for an asthmatic like me. I close my eyes, cursing my lungs for rebelling. Then I curse myself for putting them through this. Just when I'm thinking I should crawl off the frozen abyss and be a normal, lazy kid whose athletic activities stop at NHL for the Xbox, something hits me on the back of the legs. Drawing what I am sure is the last gasp of my strength, I turn to see my teammate tapping the back of my shin pad with his stick. As he tells me I will be okay, he extends a hand, pulling me up off the ice and back into the practice line.

Ice hockey is a brutal sport, but as the only girl on a varsity boys' team, I have learned how to take a hit. The most difficult challenge is not a crushing check, but my own body. I often tell myself I would be better off if I were just out of shape. At least in that case there would be a solution. No matter how many extra laps I skate or shots I take, I cannot outrun my asthma. But that doesn't mean I can't overcome it.

For my doctor, who advises me every time I come down with a cold or upper respiratory infection to stay off the ice, asthma is an enormous obstacle. According to my mom, I risk my life playing the game I love. The truth is that both of them, while qualified to make those assessments, could not be more wrong. For me asthma has not been an obstacle, but a reason to keep going. When I can't take those deep breaths while my teammates are sucking air so effortlessly, I remind myself that I am still lucky. Hockey is a game that not everyone has the opportunity to play, and I could not, in good conscience, throw my chance away due to respiratory problems.

At the end of practice, although I am often winded and grateful for the chance to catch my breath, I don't think about the number of times I had to reach for my inhaler. Instead, as I undo the Velcro on my pads and untie my skates, I am always smiling.

I'm an asthmatic girl playing a “man's game,” and that is a fact I cannot change. However, in the long run, I wouldn't change a thing about my athletic life. Playing boys' hockey has given me the chance to do something that no other sport ever has: to overcome not just the limitations placed on me by others, but also the limitations my body has placed on itself.

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This article has 2 comments.

SarahCro42 said...
on Apr. 21 2015 at 9:26 pm
I play hockey too, boys hockey since I was three, but this past year I switched to the girls team due to checking, I later regretted it, but now I am doing some summer camps with the boys and I am really pumped to play the beautiful game with the aggression I missed while I was on the girls team.

on Sep. 15 2012 at 3:04 pm
Very well written and compelling essay. The element of surpise when you reveal you are a girl is powerful. Excellent.