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The Life So Far of Raymond Bernard [2/2]

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Raymond Bernard was born in a small town in the Central Valley of California, near the state capitol of Sacramento. His father, owned a small restaurant on the banks of the delta, while his mother worked as a physical therapist for a practice in the city. In elementary school, his life was more or less a normal, middle America sort of existence. Both his parents worked, and when he wasn’t at school or in the restaurant, he was running around the fields with his friends, playing all sorts of games, but particularly soccer. Since none of his friends wanted to play goalkeeper, they all wanted to be the ones to score, so Raymond, being the tallest, always ended up in front of the net. He didn’t mind though, and enjoyed the challenge of winning a game simply by not losing it. Around the time he turned 10, however, his life began to change. 


Just as he was finishing up 4th grade, the clinic his mother worked for in Sacramento closed down. During her search for a job, an old professor of hers reached out to her and offered her a job as a lecturer for the PT program at UBC in Vancouver. She didn’t accept at first, but as the summer dragged on, and money got tight it was obvious that she needed to start work again. The restaurant wasn’t doing so well, and his parents relationship worsened. By the end of the summer, his mother accepted the position in Vancouver, his parents decided they needed a break, and Raymond went to Vancouver with his mother to start a new life. 


Although his mother was Canadian, Raymond had only briefly visited family, and Vancouver was miles apart from the small town Raymond grew up in. Settling in was difficult at first, but once the school year started, and he met other kids, he began to bond with some of the athletic boys over their love of sports - the only problem was, he had barely seen any hockey games, let alone played in one. But one of Raymond’s new friends took it upon himself to “re-educate the American,” and took him out skating with his youth team. To put it kindly, Raymond wasn’t exactly comfortable on the ice, at least not for that first practice; but he knew that he had to keep at it, and so he did. Early on in his training, a coach suggested that he try goalie; after all, it had been his position in soccer most of the time. It was at this moment that Raymond began to shine. Although he certainly was behind his peers, he had a lot of talent for stopping the puck from hitting the back of the net. 


And so Raymond worked. He practiced every day, improved his skating, and would beg his friends to come out to shoot on him whenever he could. And he got better. He improved his puck handling, his skating ability, his reaction time, and his game sense. He improved like only a kid who had never played ice hockey before but had all the desire could, and he loved every minute of it. Soon enough, he joined the youth league, and started making his way through the minor hockey ranks of Canada. 



Teenage Years


Raymond started playing his first year of hockey in a simple recreational hockey league, but quickly began to play at a competitive level, and moved up through the ranks. By the time he was 14, Raymond was playing AA hockey, but couldn’t seem to break into the absolute top level of his age group. He felt uneasy, and out of place. He had only been playing hockey for about 4 years, and was playing against kids who had been in skates practically since they could walk. Not to mention the other kids targeted him, trying to unnerve him in their games. There was always chatter, and the older he got, and the higher the level he played at, the more his opponents seemed to take it as a personal affront that he was on the ice. He began gaining a reputation, not through any action of his own, but by simply existing. 


Consequently, he began making uncharacteristic mistakes on the ice, and his coaches noticed. After a particularly poor practice, one of them pulled Raymond aside and asked him what was wrong. Unable to articulate exactly what he was feeling, Raymond simply said that he wasn’t cut out for it anymore, and that he thought he should just stop playing. And if it wasn’t for that coaches response, he would have. His coach said, 




“You know Ray, I’ve been coaching for a long time now, and I’ve seen a lot of kids burn out and quit. I don’t think you’re that kid. I know you feel like you aren’t going to make it right now, but I’ve seen how happy you are in front of the net, making saves, and I gotta say, if you quit now, you are going to miss that. I heard a quote once, and it goes like this - ‘What makes something special is not just what you have to gain, but what you feel there is to lose.’ So sure, you might have something to gain by playing hockey, if you ‘make it’, but I know for a fact that if you quit now, you will lose something special for yourself. And let me tell you, you don’t get too many do-overs on the special things in your life.”



It was at this point that Raymond realized just what hockey had come to mean for him, and realized that to quit now wouldn’t just mean it was all for nothing - he didn’t care about that. It would mean that the one special thing in his life, that he enjoyed more than anything else, would go away. It was this love of the game that propelled him forward, as it had from the very first time he stopped a puck.


So he persisted. Another year passed, another season of improvement and work, and he was recruited by the top AAA team in Vancouver. Finally, Raymond was playing with some of the top talent in the area. These were guys that had been scouted by the VHLM from the time they were 12. Raymond was tested a lot in his first year in AAA, but he didn’t crack. He stepped up to the challenge, and recorded top level save percentages, and came in the top 5 for AAA teams in BC in shutouts. He was playing some of the best hockey of his life, and after another two years at the AAA level, Raymond was recruited to play NCAA hockey by the University of Denver. He was headed back to America. 




Raymond played for three seasons with the Pioneers, and by the end of his second season was named one of the alternate captains for his on-ice presence and good-natured leadership in the locker room. While in playing collegiate hockey, continued his development as one of the emerging goalie stars in amateur hockey. 


The Future


Although collegiate hockey was instrumental in continuing Raymond’s development, he yearned for something more, and so following the completion of the 66th season of the VHLM, he declared candidacy for the S67 VHLM Entry Draft. Although Raymond had decent chances of being picked up in the draft due to the lack of proven talent at his position, he was slated to be a late round draft by most experts. However, on July 2nd, 2019 Raymond was selected 40th overall in the 4th round of the draft by the Ottawa Lynx. So for the first time, he signed a contract and went off to training camp in the Canadian capital, and began his professional hockey career. 


Ottawa Lynx


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  • DollarAndADream changed the title to The Life So Far of Raymond Bernard [1/2]

Review: I love a great detailed story with a very realistic and  relatable setback with positive ending resulting from personal growth cause that’s exactly what I felt like I just read! Especially choosing the goalie position and transitioning from soccer to hockey and having that internal conflict within oneself. The included coach quote is golden and a great asset to the story. Well done and I can’t wait to hear more on him!

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  • DollarAndADream changed the title to The Life So Far of Raymond Bernard [2/2]

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