This is a story about an amazing and smart kid named Cullen. Cullen was 9 years old and had been playing hockey for a few years but he always was looking to improve. When he heard about an extra practice that he could get each week with some older kids, he was SUPER excited because he really wanted to learn, practice and get better. His parents signed him up and he was ready to go!
The first few practices were super fun. He liked the coaches and enjoyed playing with some of the other boys. He wasn’t always the best player in the drills but that was ok because he was trying hard and knew that he had some work to do to be as good as the other kids.
Everything was going great, but then something happened. Cullen was trying to do a drill and messed it up. The coach said, “Hey, that’s ok buddy! You’ll get it next time!” But when Cullen got back in line one of the oldest players on the ice smirked at Cullen and said, “You aren’t very good. Why are you even out here?”
Cullen was crushed. His feelings were so hurt that he told his parents that he didn’t want to go to practice anymore. His parents told him to pick his head up and that everything would be ok, but suddenly hockey wasn’t that much fun anymore. Cullen started to believe that that mean kid was right and that he wasn’t very good.
Cullen’s friends and parents didn’t know how to make him feel better. They tried to lift his spirits, take him to open skate and watch fun hockey movies, but Cullen just wasn’t excited to be a hockey player anymore.
Eventually, Cullen’s parents got some tickets to an NHL game. They thought that might just do the trick to help him get out of his funk.
They went to the game and were having a great time until the other team scored because a player on the home team made a bad play. Everyone in the arena started booing their own player! Cullen was shocked and started feeling really upset because he felt like he could relate to how that player was feeling while the crowd was being mean to him.
A staff member saw that Cullen was upset and offered to introduce him to that player after the game. Cullen and his parents couldn’t believe it!
After the game, Cullen went down by the locker room and the player who had been booed game out and gave Cullen a fist pound.
“What’s up buddy?” he said.
“Umm I’m good,” Cullen nervously said.
The player looked at him and said, “I heard you were sad when the fans were being kind of mean to me. Is that true?”
“Why?” asked the player.
“I just felt so bad for you. Didn’t it hurt your feelings? Didn’t it hurt your confidence?” asked Cullen.
“No, not really! Something that I was told a long time ago is that no one can give you your confidence and no one can take it away. If someone tells you you’re amazing, that’s great and all, but it doesn’t really mean anything unless you believe that you’re awesome. And if someone tells you you’re bad at something, it’s only true if you believe you’re bad at something. It sounds like someone told you you were bad at something, is that right?”
“Yeah,” said Cullen as he started to tear up.
“And you believed them?”
“Well, no I guess. It still hurt my feelings though,” replies Cullen.
The pro player put his hand on Cullen’s shoulder and said, “People can only hurt your feelings if you let them. The ONLY thing that matters is what YOU think of yourself. And I really hope you think you’re awesome because I think you are and I really hope you keep playing hockey.”
“Yeah I guess you’re right,” said Cullen. “I was at that practice to get better and be my best and that’s all that matters. I love hockey and its fun no matter what anyone says about me!”
“That’s absolutely right! I’m super proud of you kid,” said the pro.
Cullen gave the player a big hug and took a picture with his new idol. He couldn’t stop smiling thinking about how much he believed in himself and that nothing anyone else said about him mattered. The only thing that was true was that he loved hockey and no one would ever again make him feel like he wasn’t good enough.