What it Meant to be Part of The Polar Kings Organization - Keithin Tuftin

Jan. 01, 2021

The following essay was submitted by Keithen Tuftin and was the winner of the 2022 Polar Kings Scholarship, Good Luck Keithen in your future endeavors, whichever path you choose.

“What it Meant to be Part of The Polar Kings Organization”

By Keithen Tuftin #5

       I started out my last year of Minor Hockey unsure of where I should play or even if I should play still. Over the last few years, hockey has been different for me. I changed Schools and decided I would play hockey with our local team in Hughenden in Grade 11. Then Covid hit and my season was cut short. Fast forward to my last year of Minor Hockey and I had not skated at all besides on our pond at the farm. I attended no camps and there was no longer a U18 in Hughenden. I really wasn’t prepared for hockey when I had to make the decision. I thought I would just skip my last year of Minor and play Senior hockey instead. After talking to a classmate about what I was going to do this year, I told her I would probably just play Senior. A couple days later, she came to School and told me that her Dad told her that I was stupid for not trying out for AA Polar Kings, and I had the rest of my life to play Senior hockey. I didn’t think I would be good enough to try out for the Polar Kings, so it didn’t ever cross my mind. Then I started thinking about it and decided what the hell, I’m going to do it!

        I text my Mom and Dad told them I wanted to try out. Mom was shocked but she looked on the website to make sure I hadn’t missed and tryout registration was in 2 days. My Dad got my paperwork in and that was it, I was signed up. So, here I am 17 years old, played pretty good minor hockey but never tried AA and hadn’t been on skates in 8 months. My Dad rented the Wainwright ice for me and some friends to go play shinny a couple days before try outs, to get a feel for the ice and that was it. I knew I would have to work my butt off and prove to myself that I could keep up.

     I was pretty nervous as I dressed and hit the ice for my first skate. I felt weak on my skates and rusty on drills but I put it all out there.

     The coaches took me aside after first skate and asked me to be honest, when was the last time I was on skates? It wasn’t looking good so far...

     I told them the truth. It had been a while and they told me the defense was tight and I would need to lay it all out and keep improving every skate for them to even consider me. I listened to their feedback and tried my absolute hardest at each skate. I knew I was weaker and needed to prove myself to everyone that I deserved to be on this team. There was another coaches meeting and they were keeping me through till next cut. They told me that I had done nothing but improve! That gave me a boost of confidence to push me through the second and the third cuts. Finally it was time for the talk and I made it!

     I was #5 for the Wainwright AA U18 Polar Kings. It was pretty cool that I made the team, but I had no idea how much this year would mean to me. When you google a team, it says it’s a group of people who work together cohesively, towards a common goal, creating a positive working atmosphere, and supporting each other to combine individual strengths to enhance team performance. In my words, this is what I think a team is… When you want to give up your free time to be together, when you want to drive hours together to play the game, when you can’t wait for the next practice, next gathering and anything else just to be with your Team and play the game you love!! A team isn’t just the players on the ice, it’s the Community, the Organization, the rink, the fans, our Parents, the Volunteers and all of those people that make it possible to be a Polar King. I have played on many teams, and I can honestly say this has been a year
for the books.

     Being a Polar King and being part of the Organization has taught me so many things. There was expectations that I needed to uphold, for my Team, my Coaches and my Family. I took those expectations very seriously. I wanted to improve. I wanted to be a team player. I wanted to be respected by my Coaches and I feel I have done that with the help of all of these people and the Organization. I was able to play for the best Coaches, the best Trainers and the best Teammates. I will have these Guys in my life for many years to come.

     When you walk into the PMM everyone knows you, you know everyone, and it’s a new family you see almost more than your own. We started off the season a little rough but we worked hard and started becoming a “Team” together. One of the best parts of being a Polar King was the bus trips! Being able to relax with my Team, prepare for the games, have a nap and be fed the best meals, was truly perfect!

     Being a Polar King this year has also shown me to never give up. We struggled at the beginning. We had to really dig in if we wanted to change that. After the Christmas break, we started winning more games
and making a comeback for a good spot in Playoffs. We ended up 4th in the League. When we went to Playoffs no one thought we would amount to anything, but once we got there, boy did we amount to something! We
came out 5 and 0! We also won our Semi-Finals best of three rounds and we went to Provincials. Our Provincials was a bit of a mix up. The team that we were supposed to play in the Finals was there. So due to the fact we were running out of time, the League said that whoever finished higher in the Provincial standings, would win the Finals. We ended up finishing 4th . Even though we didn’t win a medal, I had the greatest Season of my life and met some of the greatest friends I’ll ever have. I would not have had such a great last year if it wasn’t for this great Organization. I will forever recommend all my peers to take a chance, go for it and try out. You could have the best year of your life! Trust me ;)

Thanks Polar Kings,
Tuffy #5

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