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An impassioned speech

by Brad Friedman / Columbus Blue Jackets

The sound of skates scraping across freshly laid ice. The "crack" of a slap shot. The crisp tape-to-tape passes as the players control the puck.

These are a few of Allie Wallace’s favorite things about hockey.

The 17-year old senior was assigned to deliver a speech as part of her graduation requirements for Columbus Academy. Requiring all students to deliver speeches to their peers has been a tradition for decades, pre-dating the school’s shift to becoming coeducational in 1991.

Speech topics cover a wide range of topics, Wallace said, but she wanted to do something that hadn't been done before and speak on a topic unique to her audience. When it was Wallace’s turn to select a speech topic, she turned to hockey and her love for the Blue Jackets.

“I could talk about hockey for days,” Wallace said. “It was one of those topics I knew I could go with.”

Once the decision was made, the challenge was not meeting the seven-minute time requirement, but limiting her speech down to a manageable length. Wallace wanted to inform her audience about the sport and the team she admires, but also understood that many of her classmates knew little to nothing about hockey.

The speech was parts emotion and entertainment, and Wallace was unquestionably up for it.

After two weeks of preparation and a countless number of run-throughs, Wallace strode to the dais in front of her 400 classmates and delivered her seven-minute speech. She spoke about her love for the game, the intensity, mayhem and competition that occurs out on the ice.

What makes an elite hockey player? In her speech, Wallace said an elite hockey player “needs to have the strength and power of a football player and the stamina of a marathon runner.”

She may have walked up to the stage with trembling hands, but she walked off to high praise and applause from students and faculty members alike - and it became evident fairly quickly that her words had a profound effect on some of her classmates.

“I had four or five people come up to me and say 'your speech was fantastic, I’m going to start watching hockey now,'” Wallace said. “That makes me really happy to know that I interested people.”

Within her circle of friends, Wallace described herself as the most passionate hockey fan. She was thrilled to have the chance to introduce hockey to a group of classmates who perhaps otherwise wouldn't have, and she hoped that her speech inspired others to pay more attention to hockey (she wouldn't mind a few more friends to debate with).

Training camp is only a few weeks away, and the 2014-15 NHL season will follow shortly thereafter. To say that Wallace is eagerly awaiting the arrival of fall weather and walks through the Arena District is a significant understatement.

“There is so much potential coming into next season, for us to come out with a strong start a play strong throughout the year,” Wallace said, smiling ear-to-ear.

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