Why I Play – Max Malinski

Growing up I tried to play just about every sport there is. I’m not going to act like I loved them all, I certainly did not. While I was little I tried my hand at soccer, baseball, football, swimming…I even tried Taekwondo. Once again, I was definitely not anything special, and to be honest, I was below average at just about everything I tried. I couldn’t catch well, I couldn’t throw well and I didn’t much enjoy any of it.

While I was very young, about the age of four, I started to learn how to skate and couldn’t wait to get a hockey stick in my hands. My dad grew up in Minnesota and spent lots of his time there playing hockey, so he was eager to get me on skates, and I loved it. I started on my first team around the age of six. Hockey was so different from the other sports I was involved with, quickly I learned to love it. My dad was my coach almost all of my youth playing career. I was never anything special, I was always cut from the top teams and overlooked by coaches. By the age of 12, the only sport that I still played was hockey. I continued to work and came to Valor as a freshman, knowing that the program here was not doing so hot.

Valor is really where I found my stride. Once I heard Coach Gwozdecky was going to be our coach, I was shocked, and knew that this program would be taken to the top of the state. I’ve been playing hockey here for four years now, and I still get chills when I throw on my jersey and tape my wrists up for a game.

The part of Valor Hockey that I have fallen in love with is the brotherhood. Between classes, shared off periods, practice, lifting, meetings, and tournaments, I spend more time in the school year with this group of guys then my own family, but I guess they kind of become family. I do love hockey, but I think there’s always something more that keeps an athlete in love with a sport and for me, that is my team. Our brotherhood is one that I have never experienced before. Of course growing up playing club hockey I always had friends on my team, but after spending so much time with this group of guys, I have realized what we have created here is really something special. Of course, there are always hardships within such a tight group, sometimes we fight, just like siblings do, but at the end of the day, we are always able to talk it out and only grow closer.

This isn’t limited to just me and my senior class that has been playing together for four years, I have grown very close to the younger guys on the team too and that just makes it better. The most important part of our brotherhood is sacrifice. Before we get on the ice every game we have a pregame chant, to get ready to take the ice. The start of the chant is, “Dear Lord you’ve blessed us with this beautiful game, a game where I will sacrifice my blood, my sweat, and my tears, not for myself but my brothers before me.” This is something I have seen this team take to heart.

Certainly, I do enjoy the game, but it is not the X’s and O’s that have kept me playing here for four years. At the end of the day, I am willing to show up to practice, to work hard, to take big hits and to ultimately sacrifice so much because I know every one of the guys on the team would do the same for me. I play for my brothers, because they have always had my back, and I will always have theirs.