The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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I Leave My Anger At the Rink
David Rodriguez

Playing baseball in my community’s league as a little kid, I was an excellent hitter but a horrible fielder. I wanted to play something that I could be really good at, so I could feel good about myself as an athlete.

So I started playing ice hockey in 4th grade at a local skating rink. My older brother had played in their house league. I loved the sport, but I felt out of place there. Not many of the players spoke to me. Maybe it was because most of them knew each other already. Or maybe it was because I was Hispanic and they were all white, or because I was smaller than most of them.

Whatever the reason, I felt a prejudice that led them to underestimate or ignore my skills. I almost scored from behind the net once or twice—how much skill did I need to show to be accepted?

I felt that I had to prove myself in every game, whether it meant just playing hard defense or scoring two goals. I did everything I could to win their respect.

Feeling like the outsider added emotion to my game, and the game also helped me release my anger. Pushing my body to its limits is the best way to get out my stress.

I was having a tough time in school, too. I was picked on a lot by the other students, mostly because I was smaller (though not anymore), and I got into a lot of fights.

On top of that, my punishments at school were sometimes harsher than those of the kid attacking me, so I was angry at being treated unfairly in general. Playing ice hockey was my way of getting out my anger and having something to be proud of when life sucked.

My first hockey goal came to me in my second season in the ice hockey league. We were tied 2-2 and I pushed myself over the blue line, already tired and sweating from a long shift. My teammate fired the puck at the goalie: My heart pounded and jumped in my throat as I saw the rebound ricochet out in front of me.

Bending my arms back, and with one swift flick of my wrists, I shot the puck into the net. Goal!

I threw my arms in the air as I skated to a halt, to be greeted by my other teammates. “Sweet goal,” one of them said. It made me feel that all the practice had finally paid off.

My relationship with the players didn’t change much, though. They’d been playing longer than I had and were stuck up about their skills. Most of the time they passed only to their friends. Sometimes I felt like I was playing alone. I was able to play and improve my skills, but there was no real teamwork.

I played ice hockey for five years. It was fun and I had some interesting moments, from a few breakaway goals to almost scoring from behind the net.

But this past spring I played in a roller hockey league and liked that a lot better. (Ice hockey is played with ice skates, on ice, and is much faster than roller hockey, which is played with roller skates on pavement.) There is a lot more teamwork, and the players have more diverse backgrounds, including Hispanic, Italian, and Asian.

When I play now, I still have some of the same feelings when I played ice hockey. I still carry a lot of anger with me, but I’m not a hot-headed, aggressive person. I keep all of my anger on the pavement. When I play roller hockey I get out all of my anger and stress, and generally feel better afterwards.

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