With a current membership of 24 students, the USM Club Ice Hockey team is on the ice for its first official year as a club sport. Founded three years ago, the team was created with the purpose of giving the chance to play ice hockey to students who didn’t want the full-time varsity commitment.
Club Hockey President, sophomore exercise science major Andrew Wessling has been in the role since last Spring. “I became the club hockey president in my second semester of my freshman year and was looking to get more involved in club hockey,” he said. “Trying to get one the ice in a challenging year for all sorts and that is when I was offered the club hockey president role.”
For Wessling, he has seen the club hockey team emerge from a year where having sports seemed impossible, to have two dozen members and a six game season this year. The team has already played five of their games, with the last on the schedule coming in February. According to Wessling, he is hoping to schedule more as more club teams from other schools look to add to their schedules.
Scheduling is just a portion of the duties that Wessling undertakes as Club Hockey President. He organizes practices, which involves getting rink time and communicating with the entire team, keeping the coach informed of all the practice times and games, and handling all of the equipment needed for the team.
Having a coach is also something new for the Club Hockey team this year. Wessling added that it was a challenge searching for a coach, but in conversation with Men’s Ice Hockey Head Coach Ed Harding, Wessling learned that Harding was hiring a new assistant coach this year, who agreed to become the head coach of the Club Hockey team.
While the commitment of being the Club Hockey President has been time consuming, Wessling finds it rewarding. “The most rewarding part of being the president would have to be the leadership that comes along with the president title on and off the ice,” he said.
This leadership has given him goals he’s aspiring towards, most notably to build a “well knit group of players that are willing to put their hearts and souls out on the ice and have fun doing so while being competitive. All while being competitive and trying to better themselves on and off the ice,” he said.
Wessling, who has been skating for 17 years and playing for the last 16 years was recently joined by Club Hockey Vice President Cooper Swan, a freshman majoring in finance and minoring in economics.
Swan was approached by Wessling earlier this month to take on the new role for the club, stepping into a leadership role alongside Wessling for the remainder of the year. As the role is new to not only Swan, but the Club Hockey team as well, the duties and responsibilities are still being developed.
A few of the duties Swan knows he will undertake are, “recruiting, a huge factor with being the President and Vice President for the club team,” he said. Swan added that his role will also pertain to conversations around funding for the club through the Student Senate.
Funding for the Club Hockey Team currently comes from the intramurals office, but Wessling noted that all club sports are working to be funded by the Student Senate and the Student Activity Fee.
Both Swan and Wessling have taken on large roles off the ice, but also play large roles on the ice for the Club Hockey team. Swan has also played hockey for 11 years, as many of the Club Hockey team has grown up playing hockey.
Duncan Hayes, a member of the Club Hockey team, has played hockey for the past 10 years. “I joined the Club Hockey team because of my love for the sport,” he said. “My love for hockey has always been a part of who I am.”
For Hayes, being in a team is something that he cherishes. As Wessling’s goal is to build a close knit group in the Club Hockey team, Hayes has already made lasting connections within the club. “My favorite part about the team is the fact that we can all have fun,” he said. “Being able to come together to play a hard game or just having fun in practice. It’s created a good bond with everyone and that’s something to appreciate.”
Continuing to play hockey has been fulfilling for the whole team, especially Hayes. He has found purpose being involved with the practices and games throughout the semester. Being a part of the team has made his USM experience even greater.
The Club Hockey team plays their home games at the USM Ice Arena on the Gorham campus, and while the next scheduled game isn’t until Feb. 2, Wessling is looking to add more games before then. Be on lookout for any upcoming games on their Instagram page @usmclubhockey.