AU embraces first hockey season
This winter season, AU launched its first year of co-ed club hockey. The AU hockey team, which practices at Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva, was started in part because of interest shown by players of the AU lacrosse team. Many of the athletes that joined the AU lacrosse team, which will be competing in its third season in the spring 2013 season, were former hockey players and expressed interest in bringing a hockey program to AU.
“First and foremost, Aurora University is always looking to add new and exciting opportunities for our students,” said Head Coach Ryan Buchanan. “Adding hockey to our winter athletics only adds to the atmosphere of our campus.”
Extending the offer to both male and female students gives anyone the opportunity to be part of this exciting new adventure. “The guys treat me with the same respect that everyone else on the team receives, which I really appreciate,” shared Alyssia Evans, a female sophomore on the team who played for her high school women’s team for four years. “As the team continues to grow, AU would like to add separate men’s and women’s teams. This will give more people the opportunity to play. I would love to continue to play for the hockey team after this season if I can. I am having a great time being back on the ice and want to continue.”
AU is also looking to make the change from a club team to a competitor of the NCAA DIII in 2014. “Making this team Division III will be a very good thing for the athletes because it will attract new talent. We will become an even better, faster team than we are now,” said freshman player, Rafer Cooley.
Becoming a member of the NCAA will allow AU’s hockey team to compete under the sanction of the NCAA, and compete against other schools at that status. Being a club team right now means the team is an independent organization that does not play under the title of Aurora University. “Fortunately, at AU we have a lot of support from the university, and that is why we can make the jump to NCAA,” said Buchanan. Not as many schools receive the same support for their club sports.
Although the team has not yet tallied its first win, Coach Buchanan and the players are happy with the numbers that came out for the team, the progression the individual players have seen in skills development, and the way the team is able to work together on the ice.
Next action for the team comes on Friday, January 11 when they play University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Game time is set for 10:00 p.m. at the at The Mystique Ice Center in Dubuque, Iowa.