I am passionate about ice hockey. I started to play ice hockey when I was four years old and right away I loved it. One night, when I was about eight years old, I dreamt that I would be participating in the Olympic Games. My dream was so clear and so strong; I could see myself entering into the Olympic stadium at the opening ceremony representing my country. Yep, it was really an impossible dream — first because at that time women’s hockey was not an Olympic discipline (it only joined the Games in 1998 in Nagano), and finally, because so few people get the chance to go to the Olympics, after all.
But my dream was so real to me that I believed in it with all my heart. I was telling everyone around me, “I’m gonna go to the Olympics!” And as you can imagine, people were very skeptical and laughing about it. But it really became my priority, my ultimate goal in life. I was giving everything to it, and I was getting better. When I turned 15 I could not play with the boys anymore and I thought it was the end for me. But then a women’s team contacted me and so I joined them and the same year I was selected for our under-20 national team. The next year I joined the Swiss national team and participated in the World Championships in Finland in 1999. I was getting closer and closer to my dream.
Then at the age of 17, we had the opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in 2002. We had to win the last game of the qualifying tournament to have our ticket to the Olympics. That was it. The day I expected all my life, the game I had dreamed of so many times and worked for so hard! I was now so close to this impossible dream. At the very same period in my life, things were getting hectic: playing, working full time and studying at the same time was very stressful, and my father was very sick. So winning this game was not only the accomplishment of a dream, but also the response to all my struggles. I put all my hope into it.
We were much better than the other team, but somehow that day everything went wrong. We didn’t lose the game, we tied it 2-2! That day as I went out of the ice rink I was so down. My whole world fell apart and I could not even imagine how the next day would be. At that moment I said, “Jesus, take my life and do what you want with it.”
I then had a lot of peace within, and knowing that I had failed but God still loves me was all that I needed. All my priorities changed. Ice hockey was still my passion and what I enjoyed doing the most, but it was not the center of my life anymore.
Then four years later we had a second chance to qualify for the 2006 Olympics in Turin. This time, against China we scored the winning goal with four seconds left and qualified! I was not there to play, since I was injured, but at home I was very excited about this unbelievable qualification. My dream finally came true — 19 years after I had started to play — I walked into the Olympic stadium during the opening ceremony representing my country on the Swiss women’s hockey team! I took it as a gift from God.
Today I have to say that the joy of having been in the Olympics cannot compare to the joy that God gives serving Him every day. The Olympics are big, but it lasts three weeks and then it’s over. Whatever comes from God lasts forever.
At the beginning I wrote about my passion for playing ice hockey. Well for me this sport is great for many different reasons, but one thing I love with hockey is that everything is going so fast. When you hold the puck, if you take one second more to think, you’re out. You can score or receive a goal in a few seconds and the whole game changes. For me it’s like this in life as well. You can have everything you want and lose all of it in a few seconds — your job, family, friends, health, etc. Playing, winning and losing made me realize that there is only one thing at the end that remains forever — God’s love.
Therefore there is nothing and no one else I should put my trust in besides God. As silly or crazy as this might sound, what I experienced in my own life is that whenever I put my trust and hope into hockey, family or other things, I always failed or it has been taken away from me. Whenever I followed God, all the rest followed as well. He even brought back to me my dream of playing ice hockey in the Olympics.
— Sandrine Ray, ice hockey player for Switzerland