David Gruhn

Jessica Gallo, Opinion Editor

For junior David Gruhn, early morning workouts and late-night practices are just part of daily life as a competitive hockey player. Despite the long hours, loads of gear and many injuries, there is truly nothing that Gruhn loves more.

Gruhn has been skating since he was two years old. He joined his first hockey league a few years later. His parents both play hockey for fun and have made it a significant part of his life, even creating a space in their home for him to practice.

“I remember when I was little, around three, my parents played on the same hockey team, and that’s really what got me into [competitive] hockey,” Gruhn said. “I have a little hockey room downstairs with synthetic ice to shoot around in.”

Gruhn is currently a defenseman on the Howard Huskies American Team, an 18 and under, Tier 2, AA team located in Howard County, Maryland. He has a combination of on and off-ice practices and games every day of the week, and the team frequently travels for games.

“[As defenseman,] it’s my job to hit people and stop the other team from scoring goals and just help out our team’s goalie as much as I can,” Gruhn explained. “I’ve been big my whole life, so the way [I] contribute is by hitting people and being strong and such.”

Gruhn plans on continuing to play hockey at the collegiate level. However, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it has been harder to meet with recruiters. Recently, he has traveled to Ohio and Florida to check out potential programs. Even though the process is now harder, Gruhn’s coach still believes it’s possible.

“David’s a great player who puts in the effort necessary to succeed at the next level,” Brendan Potter, Gruhn’s coach, said.

Like most hockey players, Gruhn has a pretty intense load of equipment to bring to practice and wear on the ice. Ranging from helmets to pads and mouthguards, protective gear covers almost every inch of his body.

“Hockey equipment is like the bulkiest thing ever. You have pads covering your whole body and helmets and mouthguards because this whole concussion thing has people scared out of their minds. … But you get used to it pretty easily,” Gruhn said.

To keep up with the physical demands of his competitive team, Gruhn has had to endure many injuries. However, he is often unable to seek the medical care necessary to fully recover as a result of how physical the sport is and how frequently he practices with the team or travels to games.

“I currently have a broken finger. It’s been broken for the past four months, and I have not gone to a doctor. I’ve torn all the ligaments in my right ankle. I had a torn meniscus for about two years, but haven’t gotten around to having surgery yet. I’ve broken my nose a couple times,” Gruhn said. “I have not broken any teeth, but I’ve had them come loose when I was little, which was not that bad.”

Though the traveling is always exciting and the games bring another level of anticipation, Gruhn feels that the intense atmosphere is what makes hockey at this level so great.

“I love the competitiveness and the fact that you go out there and everything else is non-existent,” Gruhn said. “You go out there and you try to win, try as hard as you can and you do your best.”