Leave No Doubt


“We may place blame, give reasons, and even have excuses; but in the end, it is an act of cowardice to not follow your dreams.” – Steve Maraboli


And so it begins.

After 17 years of playing hockey, my professional ambitions have brought me to Fayetteville, North Carolina. A member of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL), the Fayetteville Fireantz (yes, with a z) are my new employer. They contracted me to get hit by 100mph projectiles. This is my job. My office is the 8,500 seat Crown Coliseum. My coworkers are a bunch of 20-something men running on nothing but testosterone and blind ambition. Here there are no spreadsheets, no sensitivity training sessions, no 9-5 workdays. There are no Brooks Brothers suits, no commissions, no bonuses, no 401(k) plans, no cushy work spaces. Here our contracts are week to week. Any day could be our last as a professional hockey player. Here no one plays for the money or for the security. We do it for our unadulterated passion that we felt before we grew up. Before they told us we’d never make it. We play for each other, for the men we’ve known for less than a fortnight yet already consider brothers. We aren’t making millions of dollars, we don’t have thousands of fans. We aren’t famous, and the vast majority of us never will be. But we all have made the choice to see our dreams through. To have no regrets, to leave no doubt.

Writing about my hockey/life experiences is something that I’ve always wanted to do. I have always made excuses not to. I was too busy/too tired. I was afraid of the judgment of others. I was afraid of coming off as self-absorbed or cliché or attention-seeking. But, in the spirit of leaving no doubt, fuck all of that.

I hope anyone who reads this finds some humor, some heart, and some insight into the minor league hockey lifestyle. I also encourage anyone who reads this to please reach out with questions, comments, or just to say hello. A big part of why I decided to start this blog was to stay connected to all of the amazing people I’ve met along the way, especially in Minnesota, Texas, Langley, and at Dartmouth. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!


More to come.

5 thoughts on “Leave No Doubt

  1. Hi James…I know your Mom, who doesn’t? She’s the absolute best!! We are a big hockey loving family in Minneapolis. Our son Charlie is a goalie! We were a billet family to 3 different young guys in the NAHL, watching them try to fulfill their hockey dream was the best!! It’s been fun to watch you through social media. Best of luck with your hockey dream and thanks for the blog…will be fun. I look forward to introducing it to my family, especially my husband Dan, (hockey guy, through and through) and my son Charlie (another hockey guy through and through…will be fun for him to follow you. My girls enjoy hockey so we will see if they follow?!😉😳.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear James,
    I really enjoyed your story and I am sure that hockey players can relate to the same experiences you went through. Hockey players are a different breed from all other athletes. Having a son that plays in the SPHL, I know the trials and tribulations that both the player and parents go through. Hanging on to what you know most is a form of security but should never limit what you can aspire to after hockey is over and out of your system. The foundations of playing hockey has already given you most of the tools to succeed at life after the game is done. This is an unforgiving business and you’re correct in saying that you’re only as good as your last shift but I will never question the heart and determination of a hockey player. Please keep writing your stories no matter where you are in this crazy world we live in.

    Pat Manno


  3. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog. Wow, what an amazing adventure you’ve been on. We’re very happy to have you spend part of your journey here in Roanoke. We love watching you on the ice and look forward to seeing more.


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