Probably one of the worst smells I know is that of the locker room of a Boys ice hockey team. Gastly! And yet, it is a sweet smell to the players (and their proud Moms and Dads) I can assure you.
Every day … beginning at 5:00 AM – you will find thousands of young girls and boys on the ice … practicing and working toward that day when they too can step out on the ice and hear the crowd cheer their name.
Travis Roy was one of these boys … it was his dream … it was his Dad’s dream for him as well that he would one day play ice hockey for Boston University. That’s the team that went to the Olympics and won the gold medal.
All the hours of practice paid off and the day came, Travis was selected to play for Boston University. He must have walked into that arena … for that first game, maybe more frightened than proud … maybe more nauseous than confident .. but he knew that he deserved to be there.
He played for Boston University for eleven seconds that first day … his first game for BU and he suffered an injury that broke his neck.
His Father must have come down from the stands … stood at the glass … watched Travis as he lay on the ice … then he came out on the ice (as he had done thousands of times over the years) to encourage Travis to “get up Buddy … we’ve got a game to play” But Travis couldn’t get up, he couldn’t move … Travis just looked up at his Dad and said ” We made it Dad!, I’m playing for BU ! ”
Both of my kids are ice hockey players. I know the smell of that locker room, the early mornings, the quiet conversations on the way to the rink, the happy conversations when they won and the encouraging conversations when they lost. The fear that they would be injured, the way that I yelled during the games with the other Dads … and Moms (the Moms are animals! when they get angry!) .
Recently I had the opportunity to photograph a corporate gathering where Travis Roy was the guest speaker. I arrived at 7:45AM to scope the place out … and then found out that Travis was speaking. I had a decision to make, I knew that my Son would want to meet Travis, to share his love of ice hockey with him and let him know that he thought of him virtually everytime that he stepped on the ice.
So, I texted my Son … “Hey Travis Roy is speaking at this event that I’m photographing … you can come …” I know that he didn’t believe me that he would be able to come … but I’m also guessing that he was throwing on clothes and flying out the door as we texted a few more lines to each other.
My Son is a NeuroSurgical Nurse Practitioner at a major Boston hospital … he has a first edition of Travis’ book … I think he bought it the day that it came out in 1998, he brought that copy of Travis’ book with him that day.
My Son listened to Travis’ words … he could relate to them. He was honored to be there, he was there to honor Travis actually.
Here are a few images of my Son speaking with Travis.
My Son tells me that he told Travis that he went into Neurosurgery because of him.
Travis smiled, signed my Son’s copy of his book, then Travis invited my Son to lunch.
Eleven seconds changed Travis’ life and meeting Travis changed my Son’s and mine.
Here’s a short slideshow / video – which includes still photography and video clips from the day.