Freshman Owen Barber has been blessed with the motivating community that is his hockey team

Owen+Barber+sits+in+his+room+surrounded+by+hockey+memorabilia.

Owen Barber sits in his room surrounded by hockey memorabilia.

Freshman Owen Barber relieves stress differently than most people.

He engages in hockey to relax. This may seem like an odd solution to stress, but for Owen, it’s completely habitual. It’s also one of the main reasons why he continues to play along. 

“Well, [I continue to play hockey because] it’s really fun,” Owen said, “and it’s kind of like a stress reliever for me. Some people fidget around or try to do something [else] to relieve their stress. My stress reliever is practicing hockey. [Hockey is] also really unique, most other sports don’t really use the ice at all or sticks like [hockey]. I just really like the sport.”

The introduction of Owen to his current favorite sport and calming activity was given to him by his parents. 

Owen’s first time skating was ten years ago when he was just five years old. The rest is not quite history though, and his relationship with hockey was rather bumpy. Going to practice took encouragement from his parents, a stark contrast to his love of the sport now.

“My parents, when I was about five, brought me to my first learn-to-skate,” Owen said. “Ever since then, my parents have been like ‘you need to go to hockey today,’ [but] for the first two or three years, [it was necessary for them to say that]. After that, I started to really like going [to hockey].”

Owen’s parents introducing him to hockey and having him continue to go may seem like they loved the sport or had a history with it, yet his start in hockey and his parents’ motives somehow still remain a mystery.

“Honestly, I don’t know why my parents signed me up [for hockey],” Owen said. “It was probably just to try it out [and see if I would like it].”

My stress reliever is practicing hockey.”

— Owen Barber

Even though Owen may not have enjoyed it at first, and the exact reasoning for having started is still unknown, hockey has become a vital part of his life. Some incredible friendships of Owen’s have blossomed from this great sport. Bonding with his teammates and having a team is what keeps Owen playing hockey. 

“Having bonds [between teammates] is one of the main parts of hockey,” Owen said. “If it was a sport [where you played alone], it would honestly get kind of boring. The teammates [you play with] are the ones that help you get through things; they’re the people that push you to go harder, and most of them are really fun to hang out with. This year, all of my teammates were really fun to hang out with.”

These unrivaled friendships and this bonding that Owen experiences create a safe environment where everyone watches each other’s backs, even if that means taking shots at someone during a game. 

During the fall season of hockey this year, Owen had an opposing team member going after him and his team’s goalie one game. Unsurprisingly, one of his other teammates was there to defend Owen and the rest of his team, a story he won’t forget.

“We were playing against a team in Grand Haven,” Owen said. “I got absolutely wrecked by a kid; it was a really hard hit. Later in the game, the same kid was trying to hound on our goalie. One of the seniors on our team completely hounded on [the kid]. He started punching away at him until [my teammate] got kicked off [the ice], but it was really good that he was standing up for our goalie [and myself].”

This is one of the specific memories that will keep Owen playing hockey for a long time. The friendships, his passion, the experience on the ice—they all make hockey what it is for him, and it has become something he looks forward to in every aspect.

“My favorite memories of hockey are the wins that you get when you don’t think that you will win, the times spent in hotels with teammates, the post-game grill-outs, and the joy of hearing that you made the travel team,” Owen said.