Are You an Athlete?

Lord Stanley’s Cup

I grew up playing hockey.  My parents had me on the ice when I was two, and I have been playing ever since.  Growing up, winters were spent traveling every weekend throughout upstate New York, and weeknights were spent at practices in rinks that only had three solid walls, the forth being a tarp.

Summers were spent traveling from hockey camp to hockey camp, picking up new techniques, and learning edge control from a figure skating coach who emigrated from the USSR.  Once we were home in the summer my brother and I would break out the street hockey nets and start pickup games in front of our house.

It is safe to say hockey dominated my childhood.

The Transition

After high school I stopped playing competitively.  Now, twice a week I break out the equipment.  Pickup hockey is on Sunday night, and Tuesday is league night.  My league team won the championship last fall, yes I am a member of a championship team, a championship beer league team.

Transitioning from competitive hockey to a beer league can be jarring at first.  For one, no more contact.  The game completely changes when you know you are not going to be hit.  Secondly, the amount of ice I see in any given season is drastically less; there are no practices in a beer league.

There are a couple of upsides to playing in a beer league.  Since I know I’m not going to be hit anymore I participate in a lot more risky plays than I did in the past.  Fancy passes, dekes between the legs, having a little “fun” on the ice talking to the players on the other team, most of these things would have been a “no no” in competitive hockey.  Now, however, since nothing is really on the line every game is a fun game where I can go out and really enjoy playing for the sake of playing.

Plus, let’s not forget about the beer in the locker room after the game.  One really couldn’t call it a beer league if there wasn’t beer in the locker room after the game.

I’m not longer striving to be an athlete in hockey, but I am still out there enjoying the game I grew up playing.

The Athlete’s Mentality

Athlete’s practice day in day out, hit the gym, run on their off days, and are constantly preparing for their next game.  Beer league players pick up the equipment once or twice a week, enjoy a relaxing game, and get up the next morning and head into work.  For most of us we can no longer be athletes on the field, but we can each take our athletic mentality and apply it now where it counts the most, in the office.

Do you train and compete like an athlete in the office, or are you merely showing up, collecting a paycheck, and putting in a beer league performance?

To see if you are a beer leaguer or still working on making it to the pros ask yourself a few questions:

Do you read about your industry?

I feel reading is key to staying a head in software development, a topic I have touched on before in My Digital Reading List,

Do you try new techniques, software packages, and play with new hardware?

Our industry moves fast, staying on top of what others are doing, researching, and implementing is key to staying ahead of the curve.

Do you try to learn about tools and techniques outside of your core field of competence?

There are a lot of other industries out there besides software development,

::I know I was shocked too when I heard this news, but there really is!::

…what can we learn from those industries and bring back to our own?  The restaurant industry has been working with and managing teams of people for decades, do they have tools or techniques we could then apply to software development?

One might not be able to “go pro” in their job, but who are you likely to want to hire, work with, start a startup with, given the chance?