Original article posted at farmingdale-observer.com
The question that plagued Jonathan Mosenson during his time at Syosset High School wasn’t so much what to do with his life, but where and how to do it.
“I was just like any average, normal kid, just trying to figure out what college I wanted to go to,” recalled Mosenson, now a resident of Bethpage. “All I knew was that I wanted to play hockey.”
Having loved the sport for as long as he can remember, Mosenson started out playing ice hockey. But after a car accident left him injured for a time, he eventually gravitated towards inline, or roller, hockey. According to Mosenson, the latter variant of hockey provided him a more thrilling and accessible experience, noting that the differences go beyond merely playing on roller skates.
Jonathan Mosenson credits his family as his biggest supporters.
“They’re both 90-mile-an-hour chess,” Mosenson said. “But with roller hockey, you don’t have any of the line rules—no icing, no offside, no two-line pass, even though the NHL doesn’t have a two-line pass anymore either. The big difference is it’s four-on-four, similar to what the NHL did with their overtime. It ends up being a much more exciting game. It’s a lot more open.”
While in high school, Mosenson helped to start the Island Wide High School Roller Hockey League at Skate Safe America in Old Bethpage, which featured different high school teams around Long Island, including Mosenson’s own from Syosset High School. However, Syosset High School wouldn’t even recognize the participating students as a club, much less an actual sports team, due to the fact that it wasn’t coached or supervised by a teacher.
“I’ve had uphill battles getting the sport recognized since day one,” Mosenson acknowledged.
At 16, Mosenson tried out for Team USA’s Junior Men’s World Team. He made the cut, and the team ended up winning the 2002 world championship. From there, Mosenson’s career continued to blossom and by 2009, he was competing in the World Games as a member of Team USA’s Senior Men’s World Team, winning a gold medal. He’s been a member of the team every year since, with the exception of 2013.
“That was one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” Mosenson said of the 2009 World Games. “We ended up winning gold, went undefeated… and just the location, the type of event that was put on—there’s over 4,000 athletes and there’s 35 different sports. That is the Olympics for sports that are not in the Olympics that are trying to get there—that are in the stepping stone [phase].”
Though Mosenson has much to be proud of on an individual level, he’s faced some challenges along the way. Namely, he cites the fact that roller hockey has yet to become a part of the Olympics as something he hopes will change. Mosenson identified roller hockey being pulled out of the Pan American Games as a setback, noting that, “That ended up being the beginning of the decline of all the funding for Team USA.”
“We are technically considered Olympic athletes—if you’re in the World Games you’re an Olympic athlete,” Mosenson said. “The problem is, to get to the point where it’s in the Olympics, that’s difficult. In order for us to get our funding [from the U.S. Olympics Committee] back, our sport also has to be in the Pan Am Games. Anybody knows that the Olympics and the Pan Am Games—and a lot of those events—are looking to get more towards individualized sports. It’s definitely an uphill battle—one that I’m also taking huge steps in, because I’m trying to give back to the sport I love in any way possible.”
In addition, Mosenson has faced an obstacle that all roller hockey players face: finding time to play. Having “never made a dime from roller hockey,” save for a few cash prizes for tournaments that he shared with his teammates, Mosenson has had to balance his day job as a financial advisor with his life’s true passion.
“To try and balance [work] with my love for the sport, it’s pretty taxing,” he said. “There were a lot of times where the hockey ended up eating into my work life. But you’ve got to stay in shape. And you also have to worry about when the rink is open. When will it be available to allow me to skate and do my training and do what I need to do? But sometimes I’ll go early, before work. I’ll skate at the rink at 7 a.m. Or I’ll skate from midnight to 2 a.m. and then, guess what? You’re back at the office at 8 or 9 o’clock. It gets tougher as you get older.”
This year marks Mosenson’s final season as a member of Team USA, and he will be departing for Nanjing, China, to compete in his final World Games on Aug. 31. Mosenson, now 31, admits that it won’t be easy to hang up his skates. However, he is grateful for all he’s accomplished and is proud to dedicate his career to his late brother Jeffrey, who died in a car crash in 2003 and made Mosenson, “always feel like I was playing for two. Had he not passed away, I don’t think I would have made it this far.”
“I’m comfortable with the decision I’m making,” Mosenson said of his retirement from Team USA. “I think it’s time for the next chapter of my life. Hopefully I’ll get to stay involved with Team USA in some capacity, be it as a coach or trainer. I truly have that passion and I really want the next generation of kids to experience what I experienced—travelling around the world, playing the sport I love, representing the country I love. You can’t beat that anywhere.”
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