From the first time he stepped onto the ice at the Wells Fargo Center, Shayne Gostisbehere made his mark. No, not just with the Philadelphia Flyers, but during his Frozen Four Championship with Union College.
Before the 15-game point streak, the overtime winners, the cute emojis to shorten his name, Gostisbehere was just a young kid in Florida with an obsession of collecting hockey pucks.
In the newest article on the Players’ Tribune, Ghost talks about life as a young kid – who just wanted to fall asleep at the ice rink – the inspiration of his talented sister, Felicia, and the road to the NHL. If you liked Gostisbehere already, you’re going to like him even more. He begins the article talking about those 4 a.m. mornings, tagging along with Felicia to the ice rink and how it shaped his motivation to get better.
My sister, Felicia, is four years older than me. Back then, she was an unreal figure skater. She was going to be an Olympian someday — she was that good. My dad would take us to Incredible Ice — the rink in Coral Springs, Florida — every morning. My mom worked, so I had to tag along if I wanted to get to school. I didn’t want to watch figure skating, though, so I started bringing a sleeping bag. I’d roll it out right in the bleachers, and I’d pass out for a few hours, five rows up from the ice while Felicia trained with her coaches.
And then, after school was over, we were back at the rink. I still didn’t want to watch figure skating, and my homework could wait, so I spent my time on my life’s other big passion: collecting hockey pucks. I’d look for them between the stands, in the locker rooms, under the bench in the penalty box — literally everywhere. I think I had more than 300 in my family’s garage by the time I grew out of my obsession.
But every once in awhile I’d stop and watch my sister skate. Man, she was so good. She still is. I think if you asked her, she’d tell you that she could beat me in a race right now. Back then, she put me to shame. She had straight A’s in school, did all this community service and was pretty much a role-model kid. And I was a rink rat, stacking pucks to the ceiling. Let’s just say we were … well, different, but I knew I wanted to skate like her.
So I took power-skating lessons from one of her coaches. The classes were O.K., but there was no puck. We did all these drills without ever touching a puck. Like, this coach didn’t get it, I needed a puck. Without her, I’m not sure I would’ve had the drive necessary to get to the level I wanted to reach. I saw her work ethic and her passion, and it showed me the way. When I look back on those early days of falling in love with hockey, I think of her.
Gostisbehere talked about being an ‘O.G. Panthers fan’ and having plastic rats as a kid, wanting to go to the games with his grandfather, Denis. He talked about how Pavel Bure shaped his passion for the game, saying that, “There are guys who are good. There are guys who are great. Then there are guys who make you want to leave the rink and go put your skates on and be like them. Bure was one of those guys. And hockey in Florida was never the same after he played down there.”
Ghost later goes on to talk about Felicia’s surgery while training for the Olympics and how it shaped his mentality on how fragile life as an athlete could actually be. Years later, Gostisbehere is now a star on a young Flyers’ defense and is continuing to develop into a household name for the organization. He mentions his call up and the excitement that was his rookie season. Humble, as he always is, Gostisbehere said he was surprised as everyone else with his production and how he didn’t know how to react when he saw these words flash on a billboard on the Walt Whitman Bridge.
GHOST DOES IT AGAIN, ANOTHER GAME-WINNER.
My exact reaction was, What the f*** is happening right now?
A month earlier I was nobody, for real. Suddenly I was somebody — and I was somebody in NHL. That entire rookie year was so special. The Philly fans are amazing. Everybody I met knew how to pronounce my name — that’s how you know the love is real. I remember seeing the signs in the crowd, I loved that.
But, yeah, that rookie season I fell in love with Philly. And I felt the ❤️ right back.
He mentions this year’s team and how impactful guys like Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, and Wayne Simmonds are in the lockerroom. He even discusses his benching last season, to which it caused him to delete Twitter from his phone because of all the criticism he was receiving. But Ghost used that as motivation as a tool that helped him realize how tough it was to be a NHL player.
Gostisbehere knows that it’s going to take a lot to be a life-long player in this league and knows that there are other guys are doing the same things to get better. His message in this article is one that is important in all of our lives – don’t take things for granted. You never know when the greatest things in your life could be taken away from you. Be humble, work hard, and be a role model. That’s what Gostisbehere is portraying. He’s doing what Pavel Bure, his teammates, and what his sister did for him.
You can read the full article from the Players’ Tribune here.
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