Frozen Tide aims for best hockey season yet
By: Kelsey Kunstadt
The University of Alabama hockey team and staff are fully dedicated to making this year one of the program's best seasons yet. Coach Mike Quenneville and his team have their sights set on winning a national American Collegiate Hockey Division championship title.
"I am really excited for the opportunity our players have this year. It is going to be up to them on what they do off the ice and at practice to capitalize on this opportunity," said Quenneville, who commutes from Huntsville to coach the team. "Winning is possible if we obtain and accomplish our goals."
The UA hockey team is beginning its tenth season at UA. Quenneville said the division III club team works extremely hard to compete consistently during a long season. The season begins in September and ends in March.
Quenneville said the team has a lot more out-of-state players and that speaks to the success of the program. Two years ago the team had more than 10 players from Alabama. Today, the team is attracting players from all over the country including: New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia, Michigan and Illinois.
"I think our football team is our biggest recruiter. Kids see UA football games on Saturdays and are inspired. They want to be able to play a sport they love at UA," Quenneville said.
Club sports are sponsored by University Recreation, part of UA's Division of Student Affairs.
"The sport club program enhances the connection of students to the University of Alabama through building community, inclusion, fostering engagement, creating a sense of belonging and increasing school pride," said Brooke Turner, assistant director of intramural and club sports. "While hockey is not as predominate in the south compared to other regions of the country, club hockey has become popular at many SEC and ACC schools."
Being a club sport means there are no athletic scholarships given out. Players make a financial commitment to take part in the program. Quenneville said the team raises money by selling merchandise and obtaining corporate sponsorships. The cost for each hockey player has dropped from $1,200 to $600 dollars within the past two years. The Bama Hockey Booster Club also contributes to help offset expenses.
Quenneville said the UA hockey team players are well-balanced student athletes. There are about 12 players on academic scholarship.
"Our team has a different dynamic and bond. The upperclassmen and I especially have experienced a lot," said Kenny Janssen, vice president and assistant captain of the team.
Time commitment is one of the biggest sacrifices the team makes. The team practices in Birmingham at the Pelham Civic Complex from 8 to 10 p.m. on Sunday and Wednesday nights. Games are on Friday and Saturday nights.
Janssen leads the team on and off the ice. As a senior, Janssen said he tries to motivate the team to play their best. Off the ice, Janssen arranges team dinners and travel arrangements for away games. He also works 20 hours in the Management Information System program at UA.
"I wouldn't change it for the world. All of my best friends are hockey players," Janssen said.
The team is not only committed to their team but also to the community. The team sponsors "Learn with Skates" five to six times a year to teach children how to ice skate. The team also visits kids at a children's hospital in Birmingham. Janssen said the team signs autographs and plays with toys - anything to lift children's spirits.
"The city of Pelham does so much for us. They have been great fans and have supported us for 10 years now," Janssen said. "In order to give back to the city of Pelham, we run free learn-to-skate sessions at the rink; anyone can attend and we love helping people of all ages."
The team plays at home on many Friday and Saturday nights at the Pelham Civic Complex. Tickets can be purchased at the game for $5, or online at http://bit.ly/1BwTWyR. You can view their schedule here.
"If you come to one game, you'll love it. It's such a different sport. Most people don't know about it," Janssen said.
This story is a part of Student Affairs Highlights, which spotlights students, staff, services and programs that are excelling within the Division of Student Affairs. View more stories at Student Affairs Highlights. Do you have a suggestion for a Student Affairs Highlights story? Email email@example.com with your idea.