By: Matt McNamara
I can still remember the first day I was fortunate enough to wear a Petes jersey. I was in novice and it was my first game. I still remember that day and how nervous I was. We were driving to the Kinsmen Centre and I made my parents pull the car over because I was sick to my stomach from all the nerves. It was something I dreamed of and wanted so badly. Being a 7-year-old kid from Peterborough, you have a dream of playing hockey and for me, being able to reach my goal to make the AAA team and to wear that sweater, meant my dream came true. But my dream did not end there…
Growing up in one of the biggest hockey communities the Peterborough Petes are everything. Every young kid wants that jersey, wants that coat, wants to be able to wear that crest day in and day out, and for me, I was fortunate enough to be able to do that for over 13 years. Not a lot of people can say they played for their hometown OHL team. Being a minor hockey Pete, I idolized guys like Jordan Staal, and grew up watching and playing games at the Memorial Centre. Every Thursday night, I remember racing from practice to watch the big club and dreaming that one day I would be out on that ice. I never thought I would be lucky enough to represent my hometown in the OHL and play 4 years for the maroon and white.
One of the longest days of my life was April 9, 2016. It was draft day and all I had hoped for was to see my name come up. Rounds past, and nerves grew. Until my hometown team had a pick in the 6th, 108 overall. When I saw “Matt McNamara” and my phone rang, I truly lost all feelings. It was the best day of my life. An opportunity that I dreamed about since I was 7 years old. Although it was a day to enjoy, I knew the real work had just started. If I was going to play for the Petes I knew that countless hours of training were to come, and sacrifices were going be made.
Fast forward to 2020, I never thought that March 8 would be the last time I would represent the maroon and white. I had planned to play my overage season for the Petes and I never thought that these plans would be cut short due to a pandemic. The toughest part of these circumstances was that the team we had in 2020 had the chance to win it all.
Working so hard for something and losing it with no ability to change the outcome has to be one of the hardest things to accept these last couple of months. Not knowing my final junior year was going to be cancelled, I looked forward to having the chance to play one last season in Peterborough. As time went on, I think everyone saw the season shutting down and it was devastating. Seeing past overage teammates skate off the ice, and to their tribute video on the big screen, and celebrating with my teammates was something I wanted to leave with as well.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and I’ll never be able to share that moment with my family and friends, but it’s taught me some very valuable life lessons. The whole shutdown made me realize to never take anything for granted and to enjoy the small things because you never know if you will experience them again. I am truly going to miss everything about playing in my hometown. I am going to miss the road trips, those tough practices, community events, and most of all, my teammates and coaches. I will always cherish and appreciate the amazing opportunities playing for the Peterborough Petes has given me, and I will forever value the lifelong friendships hockey has provided me. To all those special people I have met along the way, I just want to thank you all for guidance and an amazing memories. I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life.
To all my teammates, you guys were the ones that made it most enjoyable coming to the rink. You guys are friends and brothers I’ll have with me forever and I wish you all nothing but the best moving forward in life.
To the players coming up, the most important thing I can say is “enjoy the ride” and do as much as you can in the community because you are a role model to so many. Take the time for people as it could make somebody’s day and inspire them to have a dream just like the rest of us. Your time here will go fast; enjoy it as much as possible because one day you will wake up and it will be all over. Cherish this amazing opportunity and experience every day like it is your last because one day it will be. Being a Peterborough Pete is a gift and one day I hope all players realize and appreciate that.
To the fans of Peterborough, all I can say is thank you. I wish I could have one more game in front of you all and be able to experience the support you all showed every single game I played. The loud memorial centre is unlike any other arena in the OHL, and it made it so much more special and fun playing in front of all our fans. Seeing the maroon and white jerseys filled in the stand whether it was home or away, brought a great deal of support to us and we appreciate you all so much.
Lastly, to my family. My biggest supporters on and off the ice you guys don’t know how much I appreciate everything you do. From my best games to my worst, you were there for me no matter what. You made such great sacrifices for me to get where I am today, and I cannot thank you enough. Long nights, to early mornings at the rinks you were there for me and I, will forever cherish those special moments and exciting times.
Peterborough will always have a special place in my heart. This town has shown me how to love the sport of hockey and has provided me so many amazing opportunities in life. I will always be so grateful. Having the chance to live out my dream of playing for the Petes has been an experience like no other, and it will always be a part of me wherever I go in hockey and in life. Peterborough will always be my home, I will always be a Peterborough Pete and I will always be proud to have the opportunity to represent the maroon and white.
Thanks Peterborough again, it’s been one amazing ride.
-Matt McNamara #8