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Insider on the Re-Signing Period - From The Rafter

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"It seems that as our sport is changing and evolving, it's creating an opportunity for me to grow too." - Tatiana Rafter

SB Nation Blogger Tatiana Rafter
SB Nation Blogger Tatiana Rafter

Hi there! I haven't written for a while due to some things in my personal life. I just finished up a psychology course at UBC and travelled home to Winnipeg and Kenora for a vacation/visit! I am back in Vancouver now and wanted to start posting for you again.

Photo: My beautiful Auntie and myself at her cabin. You can also see a bit of Bob and Ali who are my aunt and uncle's lovable pups!

As far as writing goes, I've had some trouble with coming up with my next piece. This is mainly because of the position I am currently in as a professional athlete. It has dawned on me that what I am going through is something most athletes haven't opened up about.

Although there may be something in the works ... I am a free agent for now. This means that I have no ties to the CWHL, NWHL or any of the European leagues which is a tough spot to be in nearing the beginning of next season.

After my first year playing professional hockey, I wanted to spend this summer putting myself in the best possible position to train and get ready for next season. It is important to point out there were no doubts in my mind that I was playing another season of pro, I just wasnt sure what league and what team I would be playing for. My plan entailed moving back to BC and getting involved within the UBC hockey community where I have experienced a lot of athletic success.

Since then, I have surrounded myself in positive settings with a great trainer, workout program, with the ability to get on the ice a couple times a week. At this point in the off season I have started to ramp up the amount I am on the ice which includes local drop in sessions and skill sessions with the UBC Women's Hockey Program.

Back Row - (IG, Twitter): Graham Thomas, Tatiana Rafter (@tatsabeaut, @tatianarafter), Mikayla Ogrodniczuk (mogrodniczuk, @m_ogrodniczuk), Danielle Wierenga (@dangerdubz, @DaniW_1)

Front Row - (IG, Twitter): Kathleen Cahoon (@picsbykath, @kathleencahoon), Haneet Parhar, Nicole Saxvik (@nicolesaxvik, @nicolesaxvik), Tiffany Chiu (@tiffanypearl98, @tiffanypearl98)

The photo above is returning T-Birds, incoming recruits for next season, UBC's Head Coach, and myself after an "early bird" morning skate this week. Graham Thomas (UBC's Head Coach) and Mike Sommers (UBC Asst. Coach) have both been running weekly skill sessions through the summer. It's so nice to have fun with the girls once a week because it takes off a bit of the pressure and stress of the re-signing period.

The last couple weeks especially, I have been battling with the fact I havent signed with an organization for the upcoming season and have dedicated so much time and effort to reach that point. When you are putting in a conscience effort to achieve a goal and results don't seem to pop up right away it can feel discouraging. I've done some deep thinking and have reflected upon why I am feeling this way.

In doing so, I noticed I've been doing things like checking my email frequently for messages or updates about roster spots, and letting thoughts of self-doubt creep in. Actions and thoughts of this nature seem to take away from all the good things I am doing to further my athletic career. I am glad to have taken some time to process my emotions and assess the reality of my situation and I have started to figure it out. A lot of what happens next is not up to me. I'm doing everything right and I need to find ways to release myself from the aspects of my situation that I cant control.

Also, I know that I am not the only player that hasn't signed a contract for next season. I think it's important to remember that. College level teams are looking to fill out rosters as well as professional teams. It's that time of year.

Through all the reflection I have done I have landed on the belief that the most important thing to push through a re-signing period is patience.

I've come to realize that even though I haven't been picked up in a quick, clean "seal the deal" fashion, that doesn't take away from the talent, work ethic and personality that I bring to the rink. It doesn't change who I am or what I offer as a player.

I think that being in this situation has tested my character and will ultimately make me stronger on and off the ice. This is because at the end of the signing period, I will know that I believed in myself when faced with a challenge and that I stayed true to my aspirations by not giving up on them. For me, this has become a time to build self-trust.

To players in similar positions, I would say that this is when you need to trust yourself the most and truly believe in your abilities. Dedicate yourself fully to your training and most importantly, be patient. Control the controllables.

Moving forward, I know I have to trust myself, believe in my abilities, and train hard because when an opportunity arises I will be prepared.

I'm glad that I have an outlet to share a bit about my life, my career and what I've been going through as a free agent. I also hope that this will reach others in similar situations and that my words have brought some comfort and encouragement.

I want to say thank you. Thank you so much for letting me share this with you. In a way it's been therapeutic to write this article because its allowed me to feel confident and empowered during a challenging time. 'Free Agency' and 're-signing' are brand new concepts for me and are relatively new for female hockey players in general. It seems that as our sport is changing and evolving, it's creating an opportunity for me to grow too. I'm looking forward to sharing the next part of my journey with you.

Until next time, let the pieces fall where they may! ❤️

Tatiana Rafter

Professional Hockey Player - Free Agent

Email: Tatiana.rafter@gmail.com

IG: @tatsabeaut

Twitter: @tatianarafter