Showing up on the SUNY Oswego campus 4 years ago, having traveled over 700 miles away for a great education and the game I loved so much, I never knew what to expect or how fast it was going to come and go.
I remember showing up to freshman orientation and sitting in a circle of strangers as they introduced themselves; name, major, where they were from, in no particular order. As people made their way around the circle, it was finally my turn. I stated “I am Erika Truschke, Marketing major, and I’m from Chicago, Illinois.” I remember people looking up from their blank stare at the grass or off in the distance to make eye contact with me. I received the “Why are you coming out here to go to school?” The answer was simple to me, but confusing for others; I was here to pursue my collegiate hockey career and get a great education as well.
When I arrived on campus, I was overjoyed with excitement as I moved into my dorm and my stall where I was able to call home for the next four years. In a welcome meeting, Coach Dillon had addressed the team. “Your four years here will go by in a blink of an eye, so enjoy it.” Well that sure did happen. Many people can be invested in something that consumes their life in one way or another, and that is what hockey did for me.
As time flew by here at Oswego, I made countless memories, life-long friends, endured hardships and happiness; needless to say, all of the above where made both on and off the ice. Whether it was in the dorm rooms, in the locker room, or on the road, my teammates where the ones that made this time at Oswego so memorable. Nothing will ever be able to replace what Oswego has given me.
Fast forward to Senior Year…
As the team traveled to Utica Thursday February 23, it felt like a routine trip. I sat in the same seat in the very back of the bus, counted off by numbers, departed from the Campus Center Arena to Utica we went. Trying to focus on the game and the task at hand, nerves set in the body for sure. Doing the best to keep my routine, I prepared mentally for the game. Our usual game of ‘attempting to keep up the soccer ball’ was extra intense, but kept the mood light. Everything seemed normal…
It wasn’t until the final annoyingly loud Utica horn sounded and the scream of the fans erupted the Aud that I knew it was all over. Nothing in this world could prepare me for the rush of emotion, sadness, and that dreaded final buzzer. I sat on the bench in shock, feet feeling like they were cemented into the ground as I did not want to leave the ice surface. I knew once I had skated off the ice for the last time, not only my collegiate hockey career, but my competitive hockey career was coming to a close. Once I made it onto the ice my freshman teammate and stallmate Eryn Stewart found me and gave me a pat on the head and a hug and told me I had an amazing game and that she loved me. Tears ripped down my face, I tried to crack a smile; my eyes locked on the exit door to the ice surface, I slowly made my way.
Sitting in the lockerroom after the loss, more of my teammates consoled me while I tried to pay attention to Coach Dillon’s speech. During that time, it gave me a chance to reflect on the last 4 seasons that I pulled that Laker jersey over my head and represented such a promising program. Our senior class started out with a few more faces, and over the years we gained some and lost more. Alas, the last seven seniors standing have accomplished so much for this program and has without a doubt left a legacy. We have made it to the playoffs every single year, helped Coach Dillon reach 100 wins for the Laker program, taken points (for this first time in Laker history) from rivals Plattsburgh and Elmira along with a first program W against Plattsburgh in Plattsburgh, and most of us reached the milestone of 100+ career collegiate games (Kendall Applebaum, Alexa Aramburu, Alyssa Brockmann, Erika Truschke, and Allison Ullrich). Although we never got our hopeful 20+ win season, or an ECAC West Title, even a trip to the NCAA tournament, it is nothing to be ashamed of. With what we have accomplished as a group, there is no doubt in my mind that we, the senior class, have left a great legacy.
In the end, I couldn’t be more proud to have been an Oswego State Laker and to continue my collegiate hockey career with some of my best friends. It is crazy to realize that my 16-year relationship with competitive hockey has come to a close, but it will always be a part of me. The game of hockey has molded me into the person that I am today and although it is over, I will be able to look back and be thankful for the memories, laughs, tears, broken bones, sore muscles, early morning practices, and trophies; but I will always be especially thankful for my parents for giving me the opportunity to pursue my dreams.