Jason Bull is a 37-year-old police officer from Perth, Australia, but this week he is a rookie at the 11th annual Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp. Bull will be blogging about his experiences from the Gretzky camp for NHL.com throughout the week:
LAS VEGAS -- Hockey has been my passion since I was around 10 or 11 years old. I first learned of the game while living in New Zealand.
My dad took me and my brothers along to a public skating session and at the end of that session, I saw some guys coming through the doors with their hockey equipment. I thought, 'What is going on here?'
So, we stuck around and watched a bit of it. We spent about an hour at the rink and I fell in love with it straight away. I said to my dad, 'This is the game I want to play.' He took me and my brothers back to the rink and we started training. It went from there.
And, to be here now, playing alongside Wayne Gretzky, a player I have admired for years, is beyond a dream come true.
Being a Gretzky fan all my life, I am always on the computer, watching YouTube clips, Gretzky.com, and I always say this camp being advertised. Every year I have been reading about it and dreaming about the possibility of doing it one year.
I had a conversation with my brothers, Geoff and Steve, and both of them told me, 'Life is too short. Chase your dreams and go for it.' So, I saved up the money and here I am.
I should also say I'm single, and that's probably why I'm able to do it. Geoff used to play with me when we lived in the U.K. and he probably would love to be here with me, but he's married with kids and another on the way, so he's sort of living his dream through me this week.
The fact that I'm here now is amazing, but it was the entire build-up to it that helped make it so special.
Just sitting down with my brothers and talking about how I'm going to the States to play hockey with Gretzky and I'm going to meet all the other people here like Mike Keenan and Rick Tocchet and Brian Leetch -- there was so much build up to it. Then all of a sudden I was getting on the plane and flying over here and the time thinking, 'This is it, I'm doing it for real.'
I flew from Perth, had a 12-hour stopover in New Zealand, flew to Los Angeles and had to rush to get my plane for the connecting flight to get to Vegas. It was close to 40 hours of travel.
I left Perth on Thursday afternoon, but it was Australian time. When I left New Zealand, I flew out at 7:30 at night Friday and got to Los Angeles at 10:30 in the morning on Friday. It was like time traveling almost. It messes with your body.
So, I got in on Friday afternoon to try to get settled from the jet lag. But, just from the moment of flying in over Vegas, you see the strip, the mountains, the desert, it was like, 'Whoa, here we go.'
I have never been to Vegas before.
We got on the ice Monday for the first time for team tryouts, and all I can say is it was unbelievable. Words can't really describe what it is like.
I'm standing on the goal line and Gretzky comes skating on the ice. There he is, right in front of you. I've been watching him for all those years on TV and DVDs, and that skating style, watching him go, amazing.
We're doing a drill and I look up and he's skating down on me. I'm playing defense and I'm thinking to myself, 'OK, I'm going to get him here.'
It was like he was there one minute and gone the next. He just cleaned me up, went right past me. I was trying to defend him, but not a chance.
But, even that was a dream come true, if you can imagine. Having spoken to some of the other campers they say one of the biggest buzzes is playing against him, and I can see what they're saying.
We have a schedule for the week and I can't wait to experience everything else we'll get here. Every day just keeps on exceeding my expectations.
At the end of each day I am finding a pay phone to phone my brothers back home to say, 'Guess what I did today?'
I'll be doing that soon.
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