Meet Kendall Curtis!
Up to now, I’ve been the one behind the cursor of our staff and resident spotlights, interviewing each person and trying to find a way to form words to their awesome stories. But this month it looks like I’ll be the subject of our staff spotlight!
When it comes to health and wellness, I’ve always been the type to just prioritize finding something I love to do because that makes it easier to get out and get active; to commit; and to grow long term.
Ever since I was five years old that love for me, amongst other things, was hockey. I, like most female hockey players, had an older brother in the sport that just had to find a goalie to shoot at. The easiest pick is to make your little sister wear pads way too big, throw on a helmet and baseball mitt, and ask her to stand in the net.
Doesn’t really sound like an opportunity to really enjoy a sport, does it? But, lo and behold, I couldn’t get enough. Though I did find that being on the other side of the shooting was more fun, rather than being the one stopping pucks, it wasn’t until years later that I maybe got the short end of the stick (no pun intended) in that deal.
I have been privileged enough to see my hockey abilities take me to the highest points in the sport. I was recruited to play for a Division I university in Ohio State, and I also played on Team USA’s inline hockey team as we took home gold in two world championships. But, for me, it’s always been a game that I loved, and it made it easy to want to get better.
Growing up, and to this day, my dad owned and operated roller skating rinks. While I soon grew bored of the standard public skating sessions, I couldn’t get enough of the down time at the rink. I would go play hockey any time it was closed to the public, usually with my brother, occasionally with other friends. We’d play all morning, then take a break for pizza at lunch (a dish I still crush when I get the chance to cook it), just to jump out right afterwards and keep going.
As I got into high school, I was taking ice hockey more seriously, playing on the only elite travel team in the state of Colorado for girls. There were times in the summer where I would find myself on the ice multiple times per day. While part of those decisions were the result of a work ethic that my parents instilled in me, it also was just how I preferred to spend my time. I like getting better at something. I like setting goals and feeling the excitement of achieving them. And ultimately, I like the game!
Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of hard days. Our team left the state about every three to four weeks to play in league games, since there really isn’t too much elite competition in the western half of the country. The season stretches through most of the school year (August – March), so it took a lot of diligence to stay on top of my school work. Plus, there were more than a few occasions of getting sick after a difficult workout or practice.
College became an absolute haven, especially from a hockey standpoint. I was representing one of the best sports institutions in the country. I got to practice every day to really hone in my craft and enjoy the sport I loved. I remember the first day stepping on the ice for some alone time before practice and thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe I get to skate for free!” Before college I was paying admission rates to get on the open ice, and I had to bring my own pucks.
Then, of course, there were my two international trips with Team USA Inline hockey. After my collegiate ice hockey career was over, I was really excited to get back into the version of hockey I started in – roller hockey. I felt at home when I played inline hockey, and come to find out the year after I graduated college and moved to San Diego, there was an elite group of female inline hockey teams that I never knew about.
Through my connections, I was able to get in touch with someone who not only played on these local SoCal teams, but was also a member of Team USA. The first year I made the team I was absolutely ecstatic to represent my country overseas. But the best part was, it was the most fun hockey experience I had in a long time. I loved our team skill and camaraderie and I loved playing the form of hockey I knew best.
While this is the activity I put most of my time and commitment into, I can always remember my brother and I having the itch to be outside or stay busy. We picked up plenty of hobbies, tried many sports, and the times in between we were socks-deep in the nearby creeks. Growing up in Colorado makes it easier to be outside, and we were always on the hunt for fun ways to spend time.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that even still, the best way for me to get out and get active is through something I enjoy. Recently, that has been downhill mountain biking, trail running and golf. It’s a win-win to enjoy time with others and to do something you like. It makes the time invaluable. The way I see it is it’s just a bonus that it also serves as a way to keep me moving.
While I am extremely proud of the accomplishments in my sports career, I don’t want to give the impression that the only way to be healthy and active is by intense, competitive obsession with a sport, or that sports is the only acceptable way to get moving.
Some days the most cherished time in the day is my afternoon walk with my dog. It’s a way to clear my head, get away from the intrusive stimuli I experience throughout the day, and enjoy the hilarious personality of my hound. I don’t have to be flying down the mountain with my hair on fire to care for my body. In fact, some might say that option sounds more like harm than care for your body! But in either case, I find the important thing is to enjoy the things you like doing and, hopefully, doing it with others. It’s this sense of community and commitment to what you like that really matters.