Many people enjoy ice skating during the fall and winter, but for hockey players, the activity is not just a pastime. Playing hockey requires balance, stamina and strength, not to mention a healthy dose of speed. Alternate Captain Noah Weigle (’20) knows this all too well. “Hockey is a very fast-paced game that is played 100 mph all the time. Big hits, quick hands and precise shots lead to a great environment for fans and players to have a blast and get loud,” he said. Watch out for pucks; it’s hockey season.
Aside from the skillset it requires, hockey is a unique sport in terms of the way teams are arranged. At many schools, there are both club and varsity teams, where varsity teams are formally recognized by that institution. Typically, the number of teams depends on school size. Western Michigan University, for example, has three teams, two club and one varsity. Hope, on the other hand, has one club team.
This setup has its ups and downs. “As a club sport, it is nice to be able to fund a majority of our travel, games, team activities and clothes/gear,” said Weigle. “This allows us to have a larger budget, do more fun things as a team and get nicer equipment.” The main downside is the lack of official association with the college, which also means that the team is unable to receive awards through the college at the end of the year. “In this way I think we lose some of the support from the college and community, as we are not a sponsored and therefore recognized, athletic program of the college,” Weigle said.
This was not a drawback for senior Austin Kane, however, who said he chose Hope for their strong academic curriculum, with hockey as an added benefit. Kane, who has been involved with the sport since age seven, talked about the great teams and people he met in his years of playing. “Hope is so much different than any of those teams, though. We are such a close family. I consider each and every one of the players my brother,” he said.
Noah Arent (’20) echoed this sentiment and noted that a strong bond off the ice can translate to great teamwork on the ice. “The Hope hockey team is the best team I have ever been on because the culture here is so different. We are truly a family, which helps our chemistry on the ice as well,” Arent said.
The benefit of a supportive team definitely makes the time spent practicing and playing more enjoyable. This, combined with the physical, competitive outlet, is junior Max Mones’s (’21) favorite part of hockey. “What I enjoy most is the competitive atmosphere that hockey offers and how I can use it as an escape from my academic and social life,” he said. For both Arent and Kane, hockey also provides stress relief from the busy workday, a time to clear their minds and focus on the sport. “Any stress immediately leaves me once I hit the ice, and I can just focus on the love of the game,” said Kane.
Not only does hockey offer mental and physical benefits, but social too. Weigle talked about the lasting memories that go beyond the rink. “Previous teams were often built around personal success and competition within the team,” he said about his prior playing experience. At Hope, however, he appreciates the competitive yet welcoming environment the team provides. “As a team we work together on the ice but also have plenty of time to have fun together off the ice and I have appreciated the lifelong friendships I have gained from the sport,” he said.
As the season progresses, Weigle hopes to keep up this energy. “My goal is to continue to impact the team and specifically the underclassmen who are learning how to be students, athletes and young men. I hope to be a great player on the ice but also a great teammate at college,” he said. As seniors, Arent, Kane, and Weigle all aspire to win their second rings. “I have been fortunate enough to get one ring and would love to finish my senior year with a second ring,” Arent said.
Ultimately, all want to see the team grow through their season, on and off the ice, and Mones has high hopes for the season. “We have a lot of young talent, and I am confident in our leadership group and coaching staff,” he said. “We would also like to thank everyone for their support of our program so far this season. It gives us a great sense of pride playing for Hope College. We look forward to your continued support!”