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It's All About Soul

acceptance athlete emotions hockey mentaltoughness personal development teambuilding Mar 23, 2023

Why don't ghosts wear shoes? Because they can only pick one soul.

Welcome to Mental Fitness Fridays. I'm Hans Skulstad.

Billy Joel sings: It's all about soul. It's all about joy that comes out of sorrow.

We feel things in our soul, but it’s hard to explain and hard to measure.  

This is a picture of my son's hockey team. About every other week we did mental fitness team sessions.  

This team was all about soul. How do I know? They cared so much, I let the coaches shave the letters AC into my chest hair. I let them take video and told them they needed to trust each other as much I trusted them. I took my shirt off after the district and region championships to display body paint with letters AC on my chest. They even got me to bleach my hair and my chest hair.   I hoped they learned that it's okay to be vulnerable, take risks and care.  

Although the end result was not what we had hoped, they rebounded and went on to win the consolation championship. I knew it was about soul for them when I saw them come out with red eyes and tears after their first loss at state. They took risks, they were vulnerable, and they cared.  

I have never cried after a team I worked with lost a game. It was my son's last season of youth hockey in an organization where I spent close to seven years on the board.  

I wanted them to win for each other. For my son. For the community. I wanted it for my dad who is struggling with Alzheimer's. I wanted it for my aunt Sue who recently passed away, and her husband Steve who grew my love for hockey. 

As I am writing this, I realize it brought all of them joy — our friends, the players, coaches and community — because we all cared. All were vulnerable, and all took risks to be connected.   That's why I cried so hard. To quote Stuart Smalley — And that's ok.

Joy is temporary like all emotions. Love lasts. But you need to care, take risks and be willing to be vulnerable with yourself and the others around you. As we say at Armstrong Cooper: Love Your Game. You know what? That’s taken hold. Our association had three teams at a state tournament this last weekend. We ended up with a 12U girls team that was second, and Bantam B1 team that was fourth. That’s pretty damn good for a small association. Thanks AC for giving me and my family a place to belong. You made us better and showed success can happen without cheat codes. 

Being mentally fit means finding the positive in things that feel negative. Doing so promotes mental fitness.  

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