Since she was five, my daughter has played hockey. The last three years were spent on the travel team, heading off to towns far into the north country. At some of these games, especially playing against the northern teams, our girls would be playing against much stronger teams. In many instances, their players would be all 14 yr olds, while our team had plenty of girls under the age of 12... and only a couple 14yr olds.
It was Aurora's job to look after the smaller younger kids. If they got bullied or hurt, she went out and leveled the field. Checking is not allowed in girl's hockey. Sometimes the penalty was worth it. She once took three opposing players and stuffed them into their own net. 2 minutes in the box. She smiled the whole time.
Last year Aurora was ready to be done playing hockey. Her mom forced the issue so she stayed on, and played super hard. Scored a few times too, which for a defensive player, isn't too shabby. Her grandmother even got to see her score. Thought she'd have a heart attack when it happened.
By the end of the season, Aurora had more than her share of bruises and puck marks on her jersey. The most amazing injury was her bruise from a puck that hit her forearm. Left a mark so deep you could read the maker's mark from the puck in her bruise. "made in Canada". Oh yeah.
This year, Aurora decided to try karate. Her high school offers karate as phys ed credit. So 2-3 days a week she has karate at school. Then two nights a week, she travels across the lake to the dojo in Lansing. In total, she gets at least 4-5 hrs of karate a week.
In recent weeks she has come home with her knuckles bruised from knuckle pushups... and then later, from punching at the body pads. This week she had her advancement test to blue belt. She was a beginning white belt when the school year began. Between the skin peeled off her knuckles, the sore muscles and the daily bruises, I think she more than earned her advancement. As she put it during the exam, karate has helped her combine her mental and physical skills. And how!