SHARE
Stu­dents are res­ur­recting the Hillsdale Club Hockey team. ZACK NIEBOLT | COURTESY

Previous stu­dents’ efforts to start a hockey club team have been stunted by a lack of coor­di­nation or interest on campus, but this year the dream team will become a reality.

Pres­ident of the club and sophomore Zack Niebolt said the success in starting a team this year is largely due to freshmen interest.

“Thanks to all the freshmen that came in this year we are able to get a team started,” Niebolt said. “My problem last year was that there simply wasn’t a big group of freshmen that were into it.”

 When freshman Ben Hanson arrived at Hillsdale, he emailed the boys’ dor­mi­tories to see who might be inter­ested in starting a club team. Word soon got to Niebolt, who met with Hanson to compare notes. 

Between the com­bined efforts of the two, the Student Activ­ities Board newsletter, and word of mouth, they were able to get a full club roster. 

 Hanson, who is also the team’s Director of Facil­ities, said Niebolt’s attempts at starting a team last year laid the foun­dation.

“I sent the email out and Zack was one of the first people to reply,” Hanson said. “It helped because Zack tried to do this last year. So it was just a matter of getting enough names.” 

The team is co-ed but cur­rently has one girl — sophomore Morgan Billingsley — on the roster.

“I adore playing the game, so when I heard a club team was forming, I couldn’t wait to be a part of that,” Billingsley said. “I know some of the guys on the team, and I think it will be a lot of fun. I was usually the only girl on my teams in high school, so I’m used to playing in that envi­ronment.”

“Hon­estly, I’m more com­fortable on co-ed teams than girls-only teams because the guys aren’t afraid to be aggressive and play the sport how it was meant to be played, which is phys­i­cally,” Billingsley added.

As far as posi­tions on the team go, Hanson said he believes everyone is com­mitted to doing whatever it takes to have all the posi­tions filled.

“It’s a long time coming, it’s some­thing people have wanted,” Hanson said. “There used to be a team here, so the history’s there, it’s just trying to find the people to organize it and do it again.”

“We’re all ready to bear the weight of what’s to come,” he con­tinued. “We all want to play the game for the school and have fun doing it.”

 The skill levels among players vary, but everyone on the team is excited for the oppor­tunity to get back on the ice.

“Being from Min­nesota, I grew up skating since I was 2 or 3 years old,” junior Philip Andrews said. “I never played hockey com­pet­i­tively because of the expense and time com­mitment, but during my whole childhood my favorite winter activity was to play pick-up hockey. Now I finally get the chance to actually play and it will be in a package that I can commit to.”

 According to Niebolt, anyone who is inter­ested can join. 

“Our goal is not to win games, our goal is to have fun,” Niebolt said. “So if you would have fun playing hockey, we would love to have you.”

The plan now is for the team to play against “beer league” teams on Tuesday nights at an ice rink in Jackson, Michigan. Due to the schedules of some team members, the team will not start playing until next semester unless three more people want to join now. 

In the time between now and then, Niebolt says he plans to talk to donors and local busi­nesses for funding.

Regardless of external support, the guys expressed ded­i­cation to playing this year. 

“Everyone on the team seems pretty com­mitted to it, so it will happen either way,” Andrews said. “But it will be nice to see some alumni, donors, or others support us.”