I love ice hockey. Ever since I was a kid and used to tag along with my season ticket-holder dad to the Richmond (VA) Robins games, I’ve loved it. I wish I could have played it. I wish I could put on all of those pads and fly around the ice, smashing into other people and the boards. I love the rough and tumble, blue collar nature of the sport. I love its northern roots. I love the cold, winter, snow, ice, and ice hockey. I live in the right place.
I grew up to be a season ticket holder myself; a fan of my hometown team, the Worcester Sharks, the AHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks (baseball fans, think Triple-A; football fans think University of Miami). Early in December, I went on the season ticket holder bus trip to Manchester, NH, to cheer for the Sharks as they took on the Manchester Monarchs. On the ride up, we watched the movie, “Miracle.” Arguably the greatest American sports story, the movie tells of the 1980 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team – at that time, a group of amateur and college players – who, against great odds, defeated one of the best hockey teams in history, the Soviet Union national team. It’s a movie and a story that makes me cry every time I see it. It’s a story that’s symbolic of so much that is the best in us in sports and in life.
In the movie, there’s a particularly emotional scene where Coach Herb Brooks has to cut one last player in order to get the final roster to 20. He carried 21 players as long as he could, but when it came time for the Olympics to begin, he could only carry 20 guys on the team. The last player cut from the squad was Ralph Cox. Brooks himself had once been the last player cut from an Olympic squad (1960), so he knew a particular truth about the decision; (1) it was terribly difficult to make and (2) it wasn’t to be the crushing end of Cox’s hockey career. Both men went on to play hockey after this shared life event and both had success. But in 1960 and in 1980, neither would make their respective teams. They were each the last ones cut.
I got word last week that I’ve been cut from one of the research teams/projects that I’ve been working on for awhile. After a year of feeling like I was rolling right along in my new(ish) role as an embedded librarian and informationist, snaring opportunities and having lot of success, I got cut. And I admit, it was a little bit of a blow. There’s not enough money on the grant to keep me, I haven’t been able to carve out the time necessary to do my best work, and there’s someone else who can do what I was doing for the team. I’ve been cut.
By far, the hardest part of doing this embedded role is the feeling of being pulled in multiple directions, or perhaps better stated, having your foot in multiple doors. It’s hard to balance it all. I’ve tried to learn a lot about project management, prioritizing, organizing time and tasks, and the like, but at the end of the day, I still have a long way to go to be better at doing this. I don’t think I’m alone in my struggle, either. I think that we all have a bit of a hard time juggling multiple roles and projects, particularly as we continue to do more with less. Lots of people work in such an environment. And as it doesn’t appear that there’s any relief and/or change in this situation in the future, I need to do my best to get better at doing my best in this setting. It’s a goal for the new year.
So while the sting of being cut is still there, I’m also reminding myself that Herb Brooks and Ralph Cox went on to do good, even great, things in their lives. Getting cut from the team isn’t the end of the world. It’s not even the end of the season.