Why I am 700 Miles Away

Icy cold winds and snow piles over five feet high was my first encounter at SUNY Oswego. Most would agree those are not appealing features to attract someone to a college, but it grabbed me and pulled me in tight. As I toured Oswego for the first time in brisk conditions just three years ago, I fell in love with how beautiful campus looked, even covered in snow. Over-looking the vast Lake Ontario hugging the shores of campus, the sunsets leave picture perfect moments. And when the long winter season comes to a close and the temperatures start to rise, the Flat Rocks, Bev’s Ice Cream, and Rudy’s Fish Fry becomes the popular hangout stops on campus.

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[Picture of the Lake Ontario Sunset]

As an aspiring student-athlete, Oswego was a dream come true. With a wide variety of academic and athletic opportunities, it wasn’t hard to find my place on campus. Being a hockey player, the newly renovated Marano Campus Center was a huge selling feature for me as an athlete. Oswego gave me the chance to play at a top-notch facility, at my highest potential. As for any other student on campus, it provides an entertaining and intense atmosphere where they can cheer on their favorite Laker Hockey Teams. Next to hockey, other sports have received new facilities such as the Turf Field which is home to soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey games. With a lot of opportunities for athletes and students, these facilities help bring Oswego students closer together.

campus center
[Picture of the Marano Campus Center]

Leaving for your freshman year of college is an exciting and terrifying time. Saying goodbyes to your family and friends, is always tough. But, if you go to SUNY Oswego, you most likely reside somewhere in the state of New York like Buffalo or “on” Long Island (as I’ve learned); therefore, the ease of traveling home for a quick weekend is in the cards. As for me, I leave my family, friends, and boyfriend 700 miles away in a small southwest suburb of Chicago, Illinois. Most people here have asked me why I chose to go to school so far away. The answer is simple: SUNY Oswego gave me the opportunity and the privilege to receive a fulfilling education alongside the honor of wearing a Laker hockey jersey every weekend to represent, not only my team, but the Oswego State Lakers with pride. Yes, at times it can be tough being so far from home; I only get to travel home for Christmas and Spring break; phone calls, text messaging, and Facetime have become a familiar use of communication. Although, having my Laker Hockey family here is a close second. The friendships and relationships I have made over the years, has left me with lifelong connections that I will cherish. Looking back at it all, I wouldn’t want to spend my last 3 years anywhere else. Oswego has become my second home, and it will always share a special place in my heart.

My name is Erika Truschke, and this is why I am 700 miles away from home.

 

Student Athlete Guide: The Final Buzzer

You are never going to be prepared when the final buzzer rings. No matter how many articles you read, how many naysayers state their opinions to you, or how many teammates you have watched go through this process, when the clock hits zero on your final game of your athletic career, your whole world becomes still.

On Saturday March 5th 2016, my athletic career came to a close. Upon returning to the locker room the mood was sombre amongst my teammates. I kept my head low and didn’t utter a word, I was scared of what emotion would escape out of me and even more fearful that I would become too overwhelmed if I tried to talk. I physically started to shake trying to contain the emotion that I was feeling.  When Coach Dillon came in and started talking, I was only registering bits and pieces of what she was saying, all I was thinking was “This is it. After 18 years involved in competitive sports, I am done.”

As I composed myself enough to glance around the room,  my eyes fell upon my fellow senior teammates and that’s when it dawned on me. I was being selfish. I was being selfish in the sense that I was pitying myself, thinking that this is just about me and what I am feeling. I didn’t realize that those who have been by my side the past four years are dealing with this same fate. Regardless if we are are experiencing this on different levels of the emotional spectrum, this is all about us. The four of us are now in our own boat.

Class of 2016 (From left to right) Jayme McCreary, Lizzy Marks, Bailee Goodon, Tori Trovato

Class of 2016 (From left to right) Jayme McCreary, Lizzy Marks, Bailee Goodon, Tori Trovato

So when coaches asked if the seniors wanted to talk, I for one didn’t want to. But again I was resorting back to what I felt and not what my senior teammates might need to hear. So I swallowed the lump in my throat and I spoke. I talked about how the coaching staff sent the seniors an article before we started our playoff run, by Harvard Senior, Ice Hockey Captain, Jimmy Vesey. In the article Vesey talked about how he declined to go up to the NHL with the Nashville Predators at the conclusion of his Junior season so that he could finish out his college career. Vesey emphasized the honor and pure ecstasy you get to be able to play for your college, but more importantly that there are no trades in college, or kids playing for the next contract deal. In college you simply just play for the school but more importantly you play for each other. Ultimately Vesey’s message was to remind every athlete and especially ever senior, the difference these past four years make on your life.

As the coaches left the team returned to their routines of getting their bags packed up, meeting up with parents, and showering up. All the seniors stayed in full equipment for what seemed like hours, nobody dared to move. I think we all just wanted to sit in our uniforms for just one moment longer. Teammates would pass us and exchanged a sympathetic look, in which we are grateful for but you can’t help but notice the look in their eyes in terms of “I am glad it’s not my time yet.”

By the time I found my parents I could tell that this was  just as tough for them as it was for me. I let myself be embraced by their arms.  I am the youngest of three in my family and all of my siblings were involved in sports. The past 25 years my parents have been the the biggest sports fans to my siblings and I. All that our family has known in our lives is being involved with sports. So just like myself, my parents are also in a new discovery phase of their life and the big question of what next?

I’m not going to lie when I tell you that the next few weeks are going to be easy, hell the next couple months until graduation are are frankly going to be brutal. All your life you have known the person that you are with competitive sports. Being an athlete on a team, that’s bigger than yourself and means something special. You now enter a complete unknown of who you are without sports, it’s a rediscovery phase that is going to be a process. Yes there are adult leagues that you can play in, and you can still play the sport that you love, but the lifestyle is completely different.

When I was having a rough day I called up my dad. He told me that it’s okay to feel sad, and be angry with reality but to not lose touch with who you are. I asked him how could I possibly do that if who I am is being an athlete? It wasn’t until I was typing up this blog when I realized what he was trying to say to me. Hockey is who I am yes. It’s a beautiful piece in what makes up me. But it’s just one piece. I now have the opportunity to build up the other pieces that I am composed of that I couldn’t have before, I now have the chance to discover and learn new things about myself. To go on this new adventure of life with a new sense of purpose.

So when that final buzzer sounds, and the clock ticks away its last second, don’t be afraid to be engulfed by the emotion because what you have accomplished in your athletic career is now a beautiful piece of you.

Student Athlete Guide: Holiday Breaks

For any athlete they will tell you that they have four favorite seasons. Preseason, season, post season, and the holiday season.  Especially being a winter athlete you get the double whammy of having your season coincide with the holiday season, which just makes for constant excitement around every corner. I mean you get to play games one week and then the next week you are on holiday break stuffing your face with an abundance of holiday treats without a care in the world, right?!

Wrong.

Holiday breaks which include, Thanksgiving, winter break, spring break, and summer break are crucial in terms of preparation and discipline for any athlete. Yes, it is a time to regroup and rest up your body and mind but the tricky thing about these types of breaks is that it can lull you into a state of  laziness. This happens because we start to make up excuses for ourselves. I know that when I have had a long break, I would plan on giving myself two days of rest before I started training again. The thing is once you break your normal routine and start sleeping in till noon, it makes things a lot harder to be motivated to start training again.

So how do we fix this? How do we make sure that we don’t spiral into a state of laziness, that can ultimately effect not only our individual play but your entire team play.

Here are a couple pointers:

  1. Make work out groups: Over breaks in order to make sure people are holding themselves accountable make workout groups that remain in constant communication with each other. Having a teammate being constantly in your ear to motivate (and annoy) you about staying in shape can make a difference. Support and encourage each other, it’s okay to guilt them into working out because in the long run it will help your team.
  2. Stay motivated: Staying motivated and keeping your eye on the end game is everything. At the beginning of each season everyone makes goals for themselves and their team in what they want to accomplish. Don’t lose sight of that. Tape up a picture of your rival team in your bathroom mirror, make a new workout playlist, or write down your personal goals.
  3. Balance work and play: As an athlete it is your job to perform, that’s a given, but when it comes to being on breaks you don’t need to be on the ball 24/7 training until you get back to school. That defeats the whole purpose of a break. Find time to go out with your friends, have family game night, eat dessert, stay up late, read a book, and find another hobby. Find the balance in what is going to make you happy while still making the strides to help your team.
  4. Have something fun planned for when you get back to school: Talk to your coach and see if you can come up with an event that incorporates, team bonding and competition for when you get back to school. Our team does an event called “The Holiday Extravaganza,” where there are three teams and each team dresses up in costumes and compete in a 3v3 tournament, shootout, fastest skater, accuracy shooting, and best dress competition. We find out what team we are on when we are on winter break. This allows the girls to start to talk to one another and form ideas. Ultimately “The Holiday Extravaganza” gets the team even more excited to come back.

    This year "Holiday Extravaganza" winners, Mario Party!

    This year “Holiday Extravaganza” winners, Mario Party!

Student Athlete Guide: Team Bonding

What are the key components of having a successful team? Well it’s obvious to think of things such as talent, passion, work ethic, flexibility, and skill; however I believe that the one component that is often overlooked is developing chemistry.

I don’t mean that you and your team should go rent out a lab and mix chemicals together and hope not to blow anything up, but rather find ways to connect with each other both inside and outside the sport. I get that when you play a sport at an elite level you have to do your job despite whether if you like who you are working with. I am just trying to imagine the 1980 Soviet Union Men’s National Hockey Team being all kumbaya around a campfire and I just can’t. So maybe they weren’t such a team bonding bunch maybe that worked for them. However during the 1980 Olympics they were beaten by Team USA who under Herb Brooks was known for developing team building exercises, no matter how nontraditional they may be…. AGAIN!

So when asked what makes a successful team I believe that there is a formula (sticking with this whole chemistry theme). That formula is team bonding = trust, trust translates into chemistry, and chemistry = success. Mind blowing stuff I know.

When it comes to picking out the right team bonding activity, you should take into account the types of personalities that are on your team. You also want an activity that is going to push people out of their comfort zone and have to rely on others to get the job done, all while working on a college budget.

Taking in all these factors of what makes a great team bonding experience, this year myself and the rest of the captains on our team came up with the idea to go Paintballing. We (the captains) knew that our team wanted to be active when it came to a team bonding exercise.  We also knew that paintball would be a great stress reliever… I’ll admit it felt kinda good to shoot some of your teammates endlessly. However most importantly we knew that we would have to work together in a high stress/anxiety situation.

So when the day came to go to Team Paintball, things got real. Girls showed up decked out camouflage and war paint, trash talking was spewing, and nobody blinked an eye when it came to firing away at a teammate. The staff over at AAA Paintball ran our team through 3 different courses throughout the forest. The first course was a tank field, second course was capture the flag, and third was defend the castle.

At the end of the day everyone was covered in blood, bruises, paint, welts, sweat, and mud. We came together as a team and when it was all over we were laughing, comparing battle scars and explaining our heroic stories of how we shot up a teammate. We all than went to an early dinner together and the conversation turned to hockey and how we were all so excited for it to finally begin. Hearing that talk about hockey just reinforced the idea that this team bonding experience was a success. After a long preseason where people were starting to lose focus, we were able to provide an activity to reignite the passion of why we play hockey. That’s because team bonding activities bring out for the competitiveness, the friendship, the family, the strategy, the excitement but most importantly for the love of the game.

 

The Oswego State 2015-2016 Hockey Team at AAA Paintball

 

Student-Athlete Guide: Superstitions

Superstition, Noun- a widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice based on such a belief.  You wanna see superstitions in action all you have to do is walk into any locker-room before a game and simply observe. These observations will reveal that some players have a routine that brings them comfort and others that boarder the line of insanity.

I border the line of insanity.

In my defense I think I get my superstitious habits from my mother. Stuff like that is hereditary right? I believe that there is nothing wrong with having superstitions when it comes to sports. I feel that it helps focus you into the game and finding a routine that gets you ready to play. I can tell you at exactly what time a player will be doing something on our team. Whether it is eating a certain food, talking to a certain person, or stretching in a different location, it is very easy to pick up on other teammates habits.

I am not going to explain all my superstitions to you because I would like to remain as a sane person in your eyes but when it comes to my superstitions I like to incorporate other people. I play soccer with one teammate, have a bite to eat with another one, and have handshakes with about half my team. But the thing about incorporating someone else into your routine is that it builds a sense of trust. I find comfort in my routine I also find comfort in regards to being around the person I do that routine with. If you are comfortable with someone that builds trust and trust in someone translates out into a game situation.

It’s when people get so obsessed with completing their routine is when things can get out of hand, and it can hinder your performance. For example let’s say your bus is running late to get you to an away game, which causes your pregame warm-up to be sped up. Are you going to be the type of player that lets the chaos of not being able to do your routine get to you, to the point of that’s all you think about during the game. Or are you going to be the type of player to adapt to the chaos and shift you’re routine to make things work.

I know of some coaches who are well aware of how a routine brings their players comfort. But in life and especially in sports you can never except to always be comfortable… that’s too boring. So these coaches will sometimes purposely mess up a game day routine to make their players adapt and learn how to deal with chaos.

That’s all sports is, is controlled chaos. That’s why it doesn’t surprise me that athletes look to build a routine that becomes superstitions to find that sense of comfort. However there needs to be a give and take relationship with those superstitions.

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Members of the 2013 Oswego State Women’s Ice Hockey Team participate in a soccer pregame tradition. The same tradition continues today in 2015.

Student Athlete Guide: Hold The Rope

Considering this is my senior year of collegiate athletics and ultimately last year of a true competitive sports season, now more than ever do I want to win. I get it, “winning isn’t everything,” but try saying that to any senior athlete and see what their response might be.  Everyone wants to go out with a bang in their final season, why would you want to settle for anything less?

Here is an example, I am sure we all at one point in our lives have been put in the position of missing the season finale of one of your favorite TV shows.  Something came up where you are unable to watch the show live. So what do you do? You shut off your phone, you avoid any public areas and social media, and you are  so high strung that you would curse out anyone who even slightly mentions what happened in the show (guilty). Why do we do that? Why do we go through such measures to make sure our show isn’t spoiled? It’s because we dedicated and invested our heart and souls into an entertainment program and we want to be in control to see what happens and don’t want anyone else to ruin it.

The same concept goes for sports.

One of our captains on our team came up to me and showed me an article that she wanted to read for our team. As I read over it, I was blown away by the message that it portrayed. The theme was quite simple, all you have to do is hold the rope. How many teammates when you look around the room would you trust to pull you up from a cliff that would lead to your death. How many of those teammates would be willing to let the rope burn their hands and blood drip just to save you?

It is a powerful concept, and when we read it to our team it was clear that not everyone trusted one another to hold the rope for them. However that trust throughout our team has been building during our preseason and people are starting to buy into the concept of exceeding expectations.

Throughout my career whenever I came up short in making it to the big dance, I was extremely upset and disappointed but I always knew that there would be a “next time.” It’s been three years of me saying “we will get it next time,” but now there is no next time. No do overs. No shoulda coulda woulda. There is only right here, right now.

So when it comes down to winning it’s all pretty black and white. All you have to do is answer this one question. Will you hold the rope?

 

Student Athlete Guide: When It’s Over

They say all good things must come to an end, but that is the last thing any athlete ever wants to hear. However every year all student-athletes have to deal with the closure  of their seasons and finish that chapter of their athletic career. No matter how well you team did or did not preform there are always some mixed emotions about a season coming to an end. As off season begins athletes often find themselves as deer in the headlights. The reason I say this is because between all the practices, games, workouts, and school work that needs to be done rarely do you ever have any free time. When season ends, so does the routine you built and all of a sudden you have all this time on your hands that you don’t know how to occupy.

Don’t get me wrong having free time to yourself is an amazing thing but you need to remember that as a student-athlete you still have a job to do for not only your school but also your team and that is being prepared when season rolls around next year. So when that last buzzer goes off, here are three things to remember when you begin your off-season.

1) Take Time Off

When your season ends do yourself and your body a favor and take some time off. By the time season is over you are so mentally and physically drained that it is all going to catch up with you and you will feel completely exhausted. This is the time where you can eat all the ice cream your heart desires, see how many Netflix episodes you can watch in one night, sleep till noon, and just be lazy.

You will notice that some of your teammates might take a different approach and immediately jump back into training mode. That could be their way of dealing with their end of season depression but by taking time off you give yourself the opportunity to regroup. You can sit back and evaluate your own personal experience of your season. Think about the pros and cons and what you want to get better at for next year. After figuring all of this out you can set new goals for yourself that you will benefit from.

2) Find A Hobby

When season ends new door opens for you to follow your other passions and you have the chance to participate in clubs and organizations on campus. Find what you are interested in and go after it. It is crazy how many people I know that have benefited from finding a hobby in their off season. From landing an awesome internship, to kicking butt in intramural sports, to getting involved in the community, the opportunities are endless.

A teammate of mine loves music and in the off season she taught herself how to mix music together. Now she is our team’s resident DJ and has landed some job opportunities out of it. She did all of this by finding a hobby she enjoyed. If you are having trouble trying to figure out what to do grab your teammates and start an intramural team, do a fundraiser or simply just hang out.

*Our warm-up mix this year made by our resident DJ Jayme “Jay-Birdy” McCreary. Give it a listen and check out her other mixes*

3) Get Back To Work

Once you have regroup and took some well deserved time off, it is time to get back to work. A student-athlete’s job is never done and championships are won in the off season. Like I said earlier make goals for yourself and set your standards high to achieve those goals. Even if you only have time for just a 30 minute workout you still striving to get better. Push yourself physically in the off-season and the results will come.

So grab a teammate and get after it! You only have 4 years in your athletic career so make the most of it and leave no regrets when it comes to doing what it takes to be successful.

The Women's Ice Hockey Team Celebrates Their Senior Day

The Women’s Ice Hockey Team Celebrates Their Senior Day

Student Athlete Guide: Tis the Season

"It's A Great Day To Be A Laker"

“It’s A Great Day To Be A Laker”

Twas the night before season and all through the dorms the athletes are anxiously waiting to get out there and and preform…

Fall, spring or winter, there has always been much debate over what season has it best for its athletes. However in reality each season has its pros and cons. Especially if you are a multi-sport athlete, depending on when your seasons fall they could overlap with one another causing you to miss out on part of your other sport.  Below is a rough schedule guide of what to expect depending on what season you play in.

 

Fall Sports:

Field Hockey
Men’s Cross Country
Men’s Golf
Men’s Soccer
Women’s Cross Country
Women’s Soccer
Women’s Tennis
Volleyball

The Fall sports season officially start in mid-August and will go to early November (depending on if your team is eligible for playoffs). Most fall sport athletes  arrive on campus earlier than the other students in order to complete preseason. What this means is that there will be about a week or so period where it will just be your team and the other fall sports teams on campus. The pro side to playing a sport in the fall is that you get to arrive on campus earlier and get the hang of the whole college atmosphere before the other students arrive. The con side to participating in a fall sport is that your summer is cut shorter than everybody else.

Along with preseason and season, some fall sports will participate in “Spring Ball” where they will compete in some scrimmages.

Winter Sports:

Men’s Basketball
Men’s Ice Hockey
Men’s Indoor Track & Field
Men’s Swimming and Diving
Women’s Basketball
Women’s Ice Hockey
Women’s Indoor Track & Field
Women’s Swimming and Diving
Wrestling

The Winter sports season officially starts in October and can go all the way through mid March (depending on if team is eligible for playoffs). Depending on your winter sport, preseason/captains practices could begin as soon as you step onto campus. Also all winter sport athletes come back for “Winter Intersession” that takes place over winter break for all students. Winter break last from early December to late January, however due to intersession all winter athletes will have only about two to three weeks of that break off before arriving back on to campus to continue their season.

Although winter sports have their winter break cut short, winter session allows students to enroll in winter classes to get ahead in credits. The cool thing about coming back for “Winter Intersession” is that all you have to focus on is your sport, you don’t have to worry about classes unless you are taking an online course.

Spring Sports:

Baseball
Men’s Lacrosse
Men’s Outdoor Track & Field
Men’s Tennis
Softball
Women’s Lacrosse
Women’s Outdoor Track & Field

The Spring sport season officially starts in early February and goes until late April (depending on if your team is eligible for playoffs). For Spring break most of the spring sports will go to training down south, so although you sacrifice your spring break you still get to go somewhere relatively warm and play your sport. Since SUNY Oswego its know for its snow-apocalypse winters a lot of the times games will get cancelled and postponed due to the weather. So keeping that in mind, rescheduling of games can cause you to play up to three to four games a week, so keeping on top of school work is crucial.

Depending on your spring sport, your preseason will be held in the fall and you will participate in “Fall Ball.”

 

Ice Effects Interview with Brittany Hoffmann

When I was told that the Oswego State Ice Effects team went to Nationals this year, my first reaction was apparently on-point with the rest of the student bodies’: “What team is that?”

“Most people have no idea that we have a skating team,” said Hoffmann, as I let out a collective sigh of relief knowing that I wasn’t alone on the subject. “You and probably everyone else in this room.”

The thing is, even though I had no idea about anything related to skating or the Ice Effects team, I walked away from this interview thoroughly impressed with everything that I had heard. Read on to learn more about Brittany, the Ice Effects team and the Disney Program here at SUNY Oswego… Continue reading