By Bridget Halfyard
Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards; and now he sits in the place of honor by the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 (TLB)
Hockey is Canada’s game. Hockey is my game. What sport do you enjoy most? Are you an armchair athlete or an Olympic skier? Sports are woven into the very fabric of our Canadian culture and the very texture of my life.
I was six years old the first time I put on ice skates. My sisters took me to the arena with a hand-me-down pair of white figure skates. I loved being on the ice, but those skates just didn’t fit right. I protested intently to my parents; thankfully by the next weekend my parents came through as I laced up a new-to-me pair of hockey skates.
When I dressed in full hockey equipment for the first time it was for the Brampton Canadettes Royal Oaks House League team. I was eight years old and I scored my first goal a few months into the season. I still remember how the puck just trickled in past the goalie as my weak shot managed to roll past her. The euphoria I felt at that moment was a joy that I would repeat many times throughout my life. When my parents realized that my passion and talent for hockey was strengthening, they decided to send me to Teen Ranch Hockey Camp; a Christian sports camp where I would be able to play hockey as well as learn more about the Bible. I loved both so my excitement was irrepressible.
After several years of summer hockey camp, my skills and faith life began to sprout. The instructors at Teen Ranch were some of the best in the game of hockey; Ron Ellis, Bubby Stapleton, Lynn Zimmerman, Darryl Sittler, Dave Burrows, Dan Cameron, and Laurie Boschman. These are only a few of the amazing faith-filled talented instructors that shared both hockey skills and faith principles on and off the ice. The lessons I soaked in made me a better hockey player while developing a stronger relationship with God.
A highlight at hockey camp each summer was sharing the ice with instructor Laurie Boschman. He played for the Winnipeg Jets at the time and I quickly became a fan. Other than his record-breaking PIM’s, one of his best on-ice skills was winning face-offs. Laurie taught me that the key to any faceoff win is to watch the puck. As soon as you see the referee glide into the faceoff circle; watch that ref; watch the puck in their hand, from the time it gets held up, during the pause as the ref makes sure everyone is ready, and then as it so abruptly drops to the ice; never let the puck leave your sight. I worked extremely hard throughout my entire life to harness this skill and it paid off during my Varsity hockey days at the University of Toronto. Although I did not always play center, I was often subbed in to take face-offs. Throwing puck after puck as I continued to practice winning the face-offs, fifteen years later I could still hear Laurie’s voice on the ice encouraging me to win.
As my on-ice skills developed and my faith life began to deepen, my faceoff-strategy transformed into a faith-strategy. I continued to watch and listen to the connections of hockey and faith that Laurie and the other instructors talked and walked. Just as I keep my eye on the puck, I also keep my eye on God. When I do keep my eye on God at all times, I am keenly aware of God’s presence in my life.
- What do you keep your eye on each day?
- What prize are you working towards each day?
- What activities can you do to assist you to keep your eye on God?
As I reflect on these hockey camp days with Laurie Boschman from 40 years ago, I am excited to be part of how God plants seeds for the future. God later led Laurie’s son Brent Boschman to Teen Ranch. He now continues the family legacy of sharing hockey and faith with young campers in his role as Hockey Coordinator at Teen Ranch. God continues to do astonishing things on and off the ice at Teen Ranch. To Laurie and all the other Teen Ranch Hockey Jockeys, I am forever grateful for how you poured deep faith into my life as a hockey player, instructor and coach.
Dear Lord, I thank you for people like Laurie Boschman who have shared their professional skills with campers throughout the years at Teen Ranch. Their obedience to God to pour faith into my life has helped me to keep my eye on you in all my other activities. I am grateful that I can share my faith through the sport that I love. I am in awe at how you used Laurie to bring hockey skills and faith connections into my life over 40 years ago, and now you are using his son Brent to continue that tradition of excellence. God, give each of us a little nudge to transform our daily tasks into faith connections. Amen.
Bridget Halfyard (Bates) began attending Teen Ranch in 1980. She attended as a long-time hockey camper, instructor, as well as a weekend, summer, and full-time staff member. She is a Certified Funeral Celebrant and a licensed Funeral Director in the Province of Alberta. Bridget met and married her husband, Stephen, at Teen Ranch and they now live, work, and play near Calgary.