El Hockey - Oh, how I love you

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

About four years ago, my passion and fascination for el hockey sparked and has shaped who I am today.

I say el hockey because that’s what my parents call it, in their strong Spanish accent, when they refer to the sport that has taken over my day-to-day life.

Sure, I clearly did not stand with the majority of hockey fans, who grew up with the winter sport in their blood. I grew up with soccer in my blood from my family’s deep roots. Yet, little did I know, my love for soccer actually helped me with my love for hockey.

As stupid as this might sound, soccer and hockey are very similar and I think that’s why I was so fascinated by it. Just a bunch of dudes on the ice, being physical, chasing after the puck. What more can you want?

However, it was also weird. How can a Mexican-American girl, who is more Mexican than anything, be a fan of a sport dominated north of the U.S. border, especially a girl from a low-income community that doesn’t know a bit of hockey?

So yes, I am saying that hockey is a white man’s sport, for a privileged white man who can afford it. We all know just how expensive the hockey playing life really is -- the gloves, the pads, the sticks, you name it.

My love for hockey started with the Chicago Blackhawks because I felt the need to claim a team, and why not choose the biggest bandwagon fan base in the National Hockey League?

By delving into the Blackhawks, I learn a lot about the NHL and the game of hockey. And then I started wondering, is there any players with similar backgrounds to mine?

Well, there is.

He was the hottest prospect on the market from Scottsdale, Arizona. He was projected to go No. 1 overall in the 2016 NHL Draft and he eventually accomplished that feat of getting his name called by Gary Bettman on the podium. His name is Auston Matthews.

Matthews being drafted first overall in the 2016 NHL Draft made me extremely happy.

There was a kid whose mom was from Mexico. A kid who spoke Spanish. A kid who probably enjoyed eating tortillas y frijoles. A kid that was just like me.

You know, besides the talented hockey player part. I can barely skate the length of the ice as it stands now, but I certainly love watching Matthews and many others race around the rink and light up the lamp.

His success is an example of the American Dream that many parents, first-generation parents especially, lay upon their children.

Not only that, but his success has also put the Hispanic hockey community on the map. And while we might not be big, we are passionate and we definitely matter.

So what if we didn’t know about hockey till later on in our lives, we can have the same amount of passion and love for the sport as someone who grew up with the sport their whole life.

Our skin color and ethnic background should have nothing to do with what we know about hockey. For me, hockey is a part of me and that’s the way I like it.

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