Name: Zach Bogosian
Hometown: Massena, NY
Professional Hockey: Atlanta Thrashers, Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres
My name is Zach Bogosian. I’m from a small town, named Massena, in upstate New York located right along the St. Lawrence River. Massena’s population claims a generous 10,000 people on a sunny, hot, summer day.
I’m heading into my 10th year in the National Hockey League and I currently play for the Buffalo Sabres. Prior to moving my life to Buffalo, I played in Winnipeg, and began my career with the team that drafted me, the Atlanta Thrashers.
Before entering the NHL, I was lucky enough to play my junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League for the Peterborough Petes. In looking back on my two years with the Petes, I remember that being some of the most fun and best moments of my life. There are so many learning experiences when you’re a 16-17-year-old kid, but striving to make it to the NHL is something not many people get to experience as a teenager. It takes dedication, hard work, and discipline. One story that sticks out in my mind from Peterborough came from something very simple. Every Monday our team was required to go on a five-mile run. Heat, sleet, snow, or rain, we ran. I have always been a good runner, probably because my entire childhood was spent outside playing sports with my brothers and close friends. I even ran cross country in 9th grade. Being a 16-year-old kid playing with kids up to the age of 21, men at that point, is pretty intimidating. I just wanted to fit in. I wanted the guys to like me. I wanted to be the best player I could be without pissing off the older guys.
During these runs I noticed the first few times we would all run as a pack. Run together so no one “looked bad” and there were no “heroes”. After a short while, I felt I wasn’t giving myself the best version of me. Why should I not push myself to be the best I can possibly be? Believe me when I tell you that there’s not one person who believes in team effort and having a team first mentality more than I do. But in this situation, are you truly helping out your teammates if you have more to give but are settling on mediocrity? For some, that pace may have been their very best. Some guys are better runners than others, that’s fine. However, if you have more to give, and aren’t giving it, how are you doing anyone a favor or being a good teammate?
The following Monday, I decided to break away from the pack. I ran as hard and as fast as I could for those five miles. I wasn’t trying to make my teammates look bad, I was simply pushing myself to be better, and maybe, just maybe, someone behind me would see that and realize they had more in them. From that point forward, our runs were no longer done in a pack. Everyone pushed each other. No one wanted to get caught by the guy behind them and in turn, everyone chased the guy in front of them. I’m sure some of the older guys didn’t like it very much, but I wasn’t worried about it anymore. I knew I was being honest with myself and I knew I could go to sleep every night knowing that, whatever I did that day, I worked as hard as I could.
I will never forget what my Dad told me at a young age, “Being a good leader sometimes means not everyone is going to like or agree with you.” Believing in what you think is right and standing up for your beliefs isn’t always the easy thing to do. If someone gets mad at you for working hard, odds are they aren’t going to get very far in life. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but you’re also entitled to not give a shit about their opinion. So, if you’re a kid who’s trying to fit in, don’t worry about it, bury your head and run your ass off. Trust me, it’ll pay off. It did for me.