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A Freshman’s Guide to Freshman Year

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I hope that everyone is settling in well during their first couple weeks of school. As I had said in my previous entry, we have seven freshman on the team this year at UVM, which is a pretty large group. The fact that this year our team has so many girls in our freshman class inspired me to do this little piece. 

Getting yourself prepared for your first year can be a bit overwhelming for most, and might be a little hectic to get through, so I figured it might be a good idea to give a bit of advice to some of the freshman. Then I thought, “What do I really know, I’ve been off at school for only a year.” So, I decided why not have some of the more seasoned veterans share some advice on what they wish they would have known going into their freshman year. 

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A Freshman’s Guide to Freshman Year:

Baylee Wellhausen- 

University of Wisconsin ’18 

"If there was one piece of advice I wish I had going into college, it would be to put myself out there and make friends–go support other sports, branch out. Make friends with people in your classes. You’re going to spend the next four years with these people! It goes by fast. Your school is a community, and the athletics are like one big family. Soak up every moment you can.”

Supporting other sports teams in your athletic program, making friends with them, and other students is extremely important. The people you surround yourself with for the next four years are going to have a huge impact on your experience. The people I have been able to form relationships with, both students and student-athletes, this past year are some of my closest friends. Try to make friends with people who are not on your team too, you are going to meet so many incredible people. It is fun to be able to go to a game for another sport and cheer on your friends, and it is also great to see them in the stands at yours.

Morgan Turner-

Dartmouth College ’18

"I wish that I knew that there are a lot of resources out there to help freshmen acclimate to school and help you succeed, and what those avenues to take are.”

At a lot of schools, there are so many different tools you can utilize both in school and within athletics. People are on your team, and want to see you be successful. You should not be afraid to ask for help, or to use the resources available to you. Whether that means going to extra office hours for a professor, getting a peer tutor, maybe even doing some extra recovery in the training room, there are so many things to optimize your college experience in the classroom and on the ice.

Kylie Gazzolo-

St. Norbert’s College ’17

"Going into freshman year I wish I knew to be more patient. The transition from high school to college isn’t always easy. A big part of accomplishing goals is to trust the process, even when situations get tough. Buying into what your professors, coaches, teammates and friends are teaching you knowing that they have your best interest in mind. Take every setback as an opportunity to grow and appreciate every second you’re given!”

The intensity of both your school work and sports go up a few notches when you get to the college level. Regardless of what level you play at, or wherever you go, you have a huge commitment between school and hockey. It might be a challenge, and you are going to definitely face obstacles. The key is to not get discouraged and to remind yourself to stay the course so you can keep pushing forward. “Trusting the process” is an important thing to remember when anything is getting difficult because it is easy to get down on yourself. You have to face every day with the mindset that you are going to improve, what happens is purposeful, and that you are going to get to where you want to be if you put the time and work in.

Jill Kirchner-

Boston University ’11

"I think a lot of freshmen are overwhelmed . . . everything will work out, and even use your older teammates as much as possible for advice. Extra 1 on 1 skills with coaches and putting in the extra time to do something even when you don’t think you could is always worth it in the end. Try not focus on the petty things/drama within the team or schooling that can get in the way of your mental game. I know this is so cliche but also to enjoy every moment of the college hockey/school experience. It’s four of the most fun years and when you’re done you will wish you had it back (just like I do).”

Jill played college hockey, and then went to coach at Brown. She has been on both sides, playing the sport and coaching it, so she knows a thing or two about being a part of college hockey. Using your older teammates to learn the ropes is helpful when it comes to adjusting, I know some of my upper-classwomen helped me out last year (and still help me out.). Getting on the ice for extra skill sessions is a great way to grow on an individual level while in season, and will keep you sharp throughout the season. Coaches also love to see their players taking the initiative by getting on the ice a little more. Just like your physical game (skill, fitness, and so on), your mental game is just as important, if not, even more. It is all about finding the best way to focus yourself.

Kelly Micholson- 

Brown University ’16

“Ice hockey has given me so much in life. . . Sports not only promote a healthy lifestyle, but, especially at the collegiate level, teach life lessons including hard work, communication, decision making, problem solving, and dedication. These are all translatable skills that will be used in the work force. On the other hand, sports can be very frustrating. Sports cause athletes to be very competitive and to have a drive to win. When we don’t win, we become extremely irritated and unhappy. If this happens to you during your collegiate career, remember to take a step back and be thankful for this opportunity. Be thankful that you were given this chance to compete at a high level that not many people can and be grateful that you are getting a college education. Be humble, be proud, and work hard for all that you do.”

Playing college hockey, or any collegiate sport for that matter, is a rare opportunity that not many are given. There are going to be both wins and losses, but no matter what happens you have to move on. If you have the chance to play a college sport, be thankful for the position you are in because it is truly an honor. You get the chance to pull on that jersey to represent yourself, your team, and your school every single day. Always remember to have fun and be grateful for the chances you have.

Casey Leveillee- 

University of Vermont ’17

"My advice to the incoming freshman is pretty simple, and it relates to everything in life not just entering college as a female student athlete. It’s just reminding yourself throughout the journey that the more you put into something the more you’ll get out of it. I’m not just talking about hockey, I’m talking about the fact that you only get four years at this, so put yourself wholeheartedly into as much as you can. Experience it all. Be friends with everyone, no matter what. Show love to your town. Be obnoxiously proud of your school. Be a part of as much as you can while you can because the more you invest, the more you’ll get out of the experience. Like I said, you only get four years with some of the most amazing people you will ever meet in one of the most amazing places you will ever be so make it count!”

I think this last piece of advice pretty much sums it all up. Casey was a senior last year at UVM, and I am so glad that I got the chance to play with her, even if it was for just a year. Once, when I was having a conversation with her after the season, she talked to me about how important it is to love your team and love where you are at because that is when you make the most out of your experience. You have to enjoy yourself in the moment, you cannot dawn on the past, or look too far ahead, you have to “make it count.”

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When I was working on pulling all these different pieces of advice together, I started seeing a common theme in almost all of the responses. Although it might be the most cliche, it is probably the most important thing to remember as you take on these next four years. Unfortunately time never stops, we’re constantly moving forward, and there is nothing we can do to go back. Face every day with optimism and the drive to keep improving, making the most of what you’re given, and having as much fun as possible along the way. It all goes by so fast, so make the most of it while you are in the moment, and I promise the memories you make now will be ones that stay with you forever.

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