Moving away from home and adjusting to life as a college student can be tough. Add in being a Division I student-athlete for the NCAA men’s hockey team and things can get hectic.
Senior forward and team captain, Trevor Lewis, knows exactly how his new teammates are feeling. “It’s a tough transition for incoming freshmen on and off the ice,” recalls Lewis. “But we have a great group of guys on the team who will really help them get comfortable and adjusted to their new surroundings.”
Sophomore forward Colin South remembers just how significant the adjustment is for freshmen. “Most freshmen have had at least one year off between high school and college, so just getting back into the classroom is very tough,” explains South. “It is also extremely difficult to balance a full class schedule and hockey.”
According to Lewis the biggest on-ice challenge that the newest members of the Colonials squad will face is dealing with bigger guys and a faster pace. “The more they are around the easier it gets,” assured Lewis. “It doesn’t take long to adjust.”
Junior defenseman, Brendan Jamison agrees with Lewis and adds, “The biggest challenge on the ice that the new guys will face is adapting to the speed of the college level, no matter what league they previously played in.”
South also strongly believes that the style of play at the college level is also noticeably different, “College hockey is much faster and all the players are so good that it makes the adjustment that much harder.”
Head Coach Derek Schooley believes that learning to play Division I hockey is always difficult for any freshman. “The pace of practice, the emphasis put on practice, fitting into a new team, fitting into new roles is always difficult.”
“All of the players that come from Junior Hockey to Division I hockey are the stars and the best players and that’s why they’re playing here,” said Schooley. “They have to find their niche and their roles and find where they’re going to fit on our hockey team.”
Schooley also realizes that sometimes finding that niche as well as their roles can take a little bit longer than their used to, “I think a lot of that is finding the patience and finding the emphasis put on practice and off-ice workouts every day.”
Coach Schooley and the rest of the Colonials do a large amount of team building activities at the beginning of the year to introduce the freshmen to the team.
“Every team is different; every team takes on a new personality,” explains Schooley. “Every team takes on a new challenge and we want to do a lot of team building stuff to find out the personality of this team and to find out where this team fits.”
According to South it is extremely important to have the upperclassmen help the freshmen with their adjustment period, “Senior and juniors, especially, are the guys you look to, lean on, and ask for advice or any questions about our team’s systems.”
He also said that if the freshmen ever have any questions that he would always be glad to help them. “ I always try to help them with learning our systems and do anything I can to help prepare them for success like the upperclassmen did for our class last season,” explains South.
When it comes to the biggest off-ice challenge, Lewis believes it’s important to not become overwhelmed.
“You are constantly doing things and it takes a while to get settled in and be comfortable with your daily schedule.”
On the other hand Jamison, believes the biggest challenge will be the weight room testing.
“Our off-ice program, put together by Jeremy Hoy, is one of the hardest in college hockey,” explains Jamison.
Jamison said the best advice he got coming into his freshman year and wants to pass on to the incoming freshmen is to play their role and continue doing what has made them into the players they are.
“They were all recruited for a reason, and so was I,” said Jamison. “The sooner they realize what their role is the sooner they will break the lineup.”
“Just try to enjoy it even though it’s overwhelming,” advised Lewis. “It goes by so fast so try not to get caught up in the bad days and enjoy your opportunities at school and with hockey.”
Luckily for the newest Colonials they still have some time until their first game. The Colonials first exhibition game will be Saturday October 1, against York and their first regular season games will occur the following week when they participate in the Mutual of Omaha Maverick Stampede Tournament in Omaha, Nebraska.