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The (Fictional) Athletic: Jannik Nylen: The Dream vs Reality


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THE (Fictional) ATHLETIC

Jannik Nylen: The Dream vs Reality

by Jannik Nylen

 

 

 

    The first thing you always imagine growing up is your first goal. Lights shining in your eyes. Goal horn blaring as your teammates in non team-specific team jerseys hugging you as one hands you the puck. Your teammates on the bench hugging you as go you past. As you grow up, you start to realize how difficult achieving that first goal truly is. It's not all perfect like you thought it would be on the pond. Like many dreams, it takes a lot of work, dedication, and most importantly: luck. Sometimes shit just doesn't go your way. That's where I come in. Of course, I did plenty of offensive work in the M. No shame in that. But you don't exactly dream of lifting the Founder's Cup. No, no. It's always Continental Cup. Kids don't dream of their first goal for Las Vegas. They dream of their first goal for DC. Or Toronto. Or Davos. Or Malmo. My point being that being in the VHL Isn't easy, and achieving that dream of your childhood isn't always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it takes time. 

 

 

    Where is this all going, you may ask. Well, it's going to my story. One-hundred and forty-four VHLM Games played. Twenty-three goals, forty-six assists, totaling sixty-nine (nice) points. Pretty respectable, I'd argue. But that success has shown me that there's not only a skill gap between the VHLM and the VHL, but it is wide as the grand canyon. Take my stats in my rookie VHL season so far for example. Sixty-eight games played. Zero goals. Six assists. Averaging thirteen minutes per game. You let your success in your early career get to your head. Makes you think you're hot shit. Takes the reality check of being called up and seeing just how much farther you have to go to fit in along with these world-class athletes. Thankfully, along with all the world-class talent, you get world-class leadership. World-class mentors. People who will work with you for hours, trying to make you better. That's the part that you didn't think about as a child. You don't think about needing help. You don't think about having to take your licks, per se. Seeing as I play about 4 minutes a period, I get a lot of time sitting on that bench. But one of the few good things about that, is that I get to observe. Observe the skills of my teammates and opponents alike. Picking up on skills, ideas, and even mental aspects of the game that I hadn't thought about before.

 

 

   That's the great part of the dream. It keeps evolving. Adding aspects, as well as realizing that maybe some old aspects of it may be impossible. You accept that you'll probably never score that overtime, Continental Cup game 7 Winner. But you can accept that you can be a part of the core. An integral part of the team. You might not score the big goal. But what you can do? You can block the shot that would have been the big overtime goal, one that would have left you and your team watching the other guys fulfill their life's goal. You don't have to be the star. And that's okay. There's nothing wrong with being even just the depth guy. The Black Ace. Because at the end of the day, your name is on the Cup all the same. They don't move your name up the list because you scored that one goal. They don't make your name the biggest. They don't give you your own personal cup. 

 

   

    Because part of that dream was to win the cup, right? To lift it up and have a crowd cheer for you? They may cheer a little louder if you're one of the star players. But in the end of the day, you get that picture framed. And that picture is of you, lifting the Continental Cup. Next to that? A picture of your dog, or kid, or even you, with that cup and your family. At the end of the day, I'd consider that a completed dream. Wouldn't you?

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