Rokerthon Caps Off Tour at Oswego

Did you happen to catch the familiar green and gold while sipping on your morning coffee? No, your 8 a.m. eyes didn’t deceive you, SUNY Oswego was on the Today Show. In fact, we were pretty busy breaking a world record. Rome may not have been built in a day, but we broke a world record in 5 minutes. Okay, that’s only technically true, but it isn’t the whole story…

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We managed to get 593 skaters to show up at the Marano Campus Center Arena at 4:45 a.m. in preparation for the national broadcast. Who knew you could get 593 to conga across ice to Gloria Estefan so early in the morning? The celebration was splendid, but more than what meets the eye went into putting on an event that sometimes felt like the circus- “The Greatest Show on Earth!”

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Aside from mandatory rehearsals for skaters, it was all hands on deck from virtually all departments on campus. If if wasn’t ice skating recruitment calls which took place in the dining and residence halls, it was working on the broadcast itself. The theatre department set up the lights and came up with the idea of snow machines for Al Roker’s zamboni entrance!

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(He rode in on a bigger zamboni. Team Mini still looked great!)

It would be misleading to say the event was easy. The amount of coordination and organization was Hurculean. It was exhausting, but man, if it wasn’t pretty darn cool. Some were there for Al, some were there for the fun of it, some (like me) got to geek out over the process of national TV (live-to-broadcast drones anyone?!?!). Our student media organizations were able to get interviews with Mr. Roker and develop great material. Del Sarte, the student dance club, brought signs that were cleverly themed to incorporate their recital and NBC. Everyone got to have a unique stamp on the day. Al even visited all of his old haunts around Oswego and campus on Friday!

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(If you go back and watch the recording, you can catch me darting through crowds to run the social media beat!)

The effort on behalf of the student body, administration, and community was incredible. Oswego absolutely has its moments and is a unique place. Why would we get selected out of so many large universities across the nation and Al Roker come back if it wasn’t?

Freshman to Senior: The Blink of an Eye

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…

Freshman Eryn Stewart giving Senior Erika Truschke a hug after suffering season-ending loss to Utica.

Freshman Eryn Stewart giving Senior Erika Truschke a hug after suffering season-ending loss to Utica.

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.

Assistant Women's Ice Hockey Coach Greg Haney takes a selfie with the 7 seniors.

Assistant Women’s Ice Hockey Coach Greg Haney takes a selfie with the 7 seniors.

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.

~Thank you hockey~

#OzGoldRush and why it’s a big deal

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Maybe you’ve heard, maybe you haven’t. Some call it White Out Part 2, some wanted it to be Black Out, its proper name is Gold Rush. This Saturday, Marano Campus Center Arena will be bombarded with fans from all over, whether that is alumni, students, community members, etc. to catch a glimpse of what could possibly be history.

“That feeling in your gut when red shows up on the ice in more ways than one.” An apt line from the Laker Men’s hype video to describe the scene that will take place on Saturday. Archrivals Oswego and Plattsburgh will show down as they try to set the record straight on who the true king of the SUNYAC is.

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Fact: This group of seniors have not beaten Plattsburgh at Marano during their tenure. Looking to cement their legacy, they will be hungry during this Saturday’s championship game.

Fact: This Saturday will mark the 6th consecutive year that Oswego and Plattsburgh have met in the SUNYAC playoffs. If you don’t call that rivalry, then I don’t know what you would.

So why the name Gold Rush? The team is hunting for SUNYAC gold this Saturday. They are also looking to wear their gold alternate jerseys. These jerseys are special because they have the names of alumni as well as the active roster etched onto a bright Oswego gold.

There is only standing room left now for student section tickets. The line is expected to reach White Out proportions. What do the fans need to bring? Simple, unmatched energy and gold. What do the players need to bring? Their best play of the season.

*Wordpress distorts the quality of the photos.

Hockey 101: Laker Edition

Growing up in a hockey family, the rules of the game became second nature to me; for others, hockey may be a foreign language. Here at Oswego State, hockey is a big aspect of campus life. Every GameDay calls for a packed house full of screaming fans on the edge of their seats. Whether it’s a rowdy “Go Home Plattsburgh” chant, or booing at the referees for a bad call, the fans are engaged throughout the game.

For some, hockey may be a confusing sport to understand. There are whistles to stop the play, colored lines on the ice that represent something, players smashing other players into the boards, and many other confusing events. Perhaps people who do not understand the rules and plays of hockey need to be taught a thing or two before attending a game; that is where I come in.

This simple “Hockey 101” video helps fans understand the rules, do’s/don’ts on the ice, and how to be a good spectator. After watching this video, you can be prepared to attend the famous Hockey Night in Oswego and cheer on your Lakers to victory!

 

As an enthusiastic Laker Hockey fan, always remember, “Be Loud, Be Proud, and Be Positive.”

Special thanks to my teammates Brianna Colucci, Kate Randazzo, Lauren Martel, Eryn Stewart and Amber Samonek for being a part of the filming process.

Why I am 700 Miles Away

Icy cold winds and snow piles over five feet high was my first encounter at SUNY Oswego. Most would agree those are not appealing features to attract someone to a college, but it grabbed me and pulled me in tight. As I toured Oswego for the first time in brisk conditions just three years ago, I fell in love with how beautiful campus looked, even covered in snow. Over-looking the vast Lake Ontario hugging the shores of campus, the sunsets leave picture perfect moments. And when the long winter season comes to a close and the temperatures start to rise, the Flat Rocks, Bev’s Ice Cream, and Rudy’s Fish Fry becomes the popular hangout stops on campus.

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[Picture of the Lake Ontario Sunset]

As an aspiring student-athlete, Oswego was a dream come true. With a wide variety of academic and athletic opportunities, it wasn’t hard to find my place on campus. Being a hockey player, the newly renovated Marano Campus Center was a huge selling feature for me as an athlete. Oswego gave me the chance to play at a top-notch facility, at my highest potential. As for any other student on campus, it provides an entertaining and intense atmosphere where they can cheer on their favorite Laker Hockey Teams. Next to hockey, other sports have received new facilities such as the Turf Field which is home to soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey games. With a lot of opportunities for athletes and students, these facilities help bring Oswego students closer together.

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[Picture of the Marano Campus Center]

Leaving for your freshman year of college is an exciting and terrifying time. Saying goodbyes to your family and friends, is always tough. But, if you go to SUNY Oswego, you most likely reside somewhere in the state of New York like Buffalo or “on” Long Island (as I’ve learned); therefore, the ease of traveling home for a quick weekend is in the cards. As for me, I leave my family, friends, and boyfriend 700 miles away in a small southwest suburb of Chicago, Illinois. Most people here have asked me why I chose to go to school so far away. The answer is simple: SUNY Oswego gave me the opportunity and the privilege to receive a fulfilling education alongside the honor of wearing a Laker hockey jersey every weekend to represent, not only my team, but the Oswego State Lakers with pride. Yes, at times it can be tough being so far from home; I only get to travel home for Christmas and Spring break; phone calls, text messaging, and Facetime have become a familiar use of communication. Although, having my Laker Hockey family here is a close second. The friendships and relationships I have made over the years, has left me with lifelong connections that I will cherish. Looking back at it all, I wouldn’t want to spend my last 3 years anywhere else. Oswego has become my second home, and it will always share a special place in my heart.

My name is Erika Truschke, and this is why I am 700 miles away from home.

 

Student Athlete Guide: The Final Buzzer

You are never going to be prepared when the final buzzer rings. No matter how many articles you read, how many naysayers state their opinions to you, or how many teammates you have watched go through this process, when the clock hits zero on your final game of your athletic career, your whole world becomes still.

On Saturday March 5th 2016, my athletic career came to a close. Upon returning to the locker room the mood was sombre amongst my teammates. I kept my head low and didn’t utter a word, I was scared of what emotion would escape out of me and even more fearful that I would become too overwhelmed if I tried to talk. I physically started to shake trying to contain the emotion that I was feeling.  When Coach Dillon came in and started talking, I was only registering bits and pieces of what she was saying, all I was thinking was “This is it. After 18 years involved in competitive sports, I am done.”

As I composed myself enough to glance around the room,  my eyes fell upon my fellow senior teammates and that’s when it dawned on me. I was being selfish. I was being selfish in the sense that I was pitying myself, thinking that this is just about me and what I am feeling. I didn’t realize that those who have been by my side the past four years are dealing with this same fate. Regardless if we are are experiencing this on different levels of the emotional spectrum, this is all about us. The four of us are now in our own boat.

Class of 2016 (From left to right) Jayme McCreary, Lizzy Marks, Bailee Goodon, Tori Trovato

Class of 2016 (From left to right) Jayme McCreary, Lizzy Marks, Bailee Goodon, Tori Trovato

So when coaches asked if the seniors wanted to talk, I for one didn’t want to. But again I was resorting back to what I felt and not what my senior teammates might need to hear. So I swallowed the lump in my throat and I spoke. I talked about how the coaching staff sent the seniors an article before we started our playoff run, by Harvard Senior, Ice Hockey Captain, Jimmy Vesey. In the article Vesey talked about how he declined to go up to the NHL with the Nashville Predators at the conclusion of his Junior season so that he could finish out his college career. Vesey emphasized the honor and pure ecstasy you get to be able to play for your college, but more importantly that there are no trades in college, or kids playing for the next contract deal. In college you simply just play for the school but more importantly you play for each other. Ultimately Vesey’s message was to remind every athlete and especially ever senior, the difference these past four years make on your life.

As the coaches left the team returned to their routines of getting their bags packed up, meeting up with parents, and showering up. All the seniors stayed in full equipment for what seemed like hours, nobody dared to move. I think we all just wanted to sit in our uniforms for just one moment longer. Teammates would pass us and exchanged a sympathetic look, in which we are grateful for but you can’t help but notice the look in their eyes in terms of “I am glad it’s not my time yet.”

By the time I found my parents I could tell that this was  just as tough for them as it was for me. I let myself be embraced by their arms.  I am the youngest of three in my family and all of my siblings were involved in sports. The past 25 years my parents have been the the biggest sports fans to my siblings and I. All that our family has known in our lives is being involved with sports. So just like myself, my parents are also in a new discovery phase of their life and the big question of what next?

I’m not going to lie when I tell you that the next few weeks are going to be easy, hell the next couple months until graduation are are frankly going to be brutal. All your life you have known the person that you are with competitive sports. Being an athlete on a team, that’s bigger than yourself and means something special. You now enter a complete unknown of who you are without sports, it’s a rediscovery phase that is going to be a process. Yes there are adult leagues that you can play in, and you can still play the sport that you love, but the lifestyle is completely different.

When I was having a rough day I called up my dad. He told me that it’s okay to feel sad, and be angry with reality but to not lose touch with who you are. I asked him how could I possibly do that if who I am is being an athlete? It wasn’t until I was typing up this blog when I realized what he was trying to say to me. Hockey is who I am yes. It’s a beautiful piece in what makes up me. But it’s just one piece. I now have the opportunity to build up the other pieces that I am composed of that I couldn’t have before, I now have the chance to discover and learn new things about myself. To go on this new adventure of life with a new sense of purpose.

So when that final buzzer sounds, and the clock ticks away its last second, don’t be afraid to be engulfed by the emotion because what you have accomplished in your athletic career is now a beautiful piece of you.

Student Athlete Guide: Holiday Breaks

For any athlete they will tell you that they have four favorite seasons. Preseason, season, post season, and the holiday season.  Especially being a winter athlete you get the double whammy of having your season coincide with the holiday season, which just makes for constant excitement around every corner. I mean you get to play games one week and then the next week you are on holiday break stuffing your face with an abundance of holiday treats without a care in the world, right?!

Wrong.

Holiday breaks which include, Thanksgiving, winter break, spring break, and summer break are crucial in terms of preparation and discipline for any athlete. Yes, it is a time to regroup and rest up your body and mind but the tricky thing about these types of breaks is that it can lull you into a state of  laziness. This happens because we start to make up excuses for ourselves. I know that when I have had a long break, I would plan on giving myself two days of rest before I started training again. The thing is once you break your normal routine and start sleeping in till noon, it makes things a lot harder to be motivated to start training again.

So how do we fix this? How do we make sure that we don’t spiral into a state of laziness, that can ultimately effect not only our individual play but your entire team play.

Here are a couple pointers:

  1. Make work out groups: Over breaks in order to make sure people are holding themselves accountable make workout groups that remain in constant communication with each other. Having a teammate being constantly in your ear to motivate (and annoy) you about staying in shape can make a difference. Support and encourage each other, it’s okay to guilt them into working out because in the long run it will help your team.
  2. Stay motivated: Staying motivated and keeping your eye on the end game is everything. At the beginning of each season everyone makes goals for themselves and their team in what they want to accomplish. Don’t lose sight of that. Tape up a picture of your rival team in your bathroom mirror, make a new workout playlist, or write down your personal goals.
  3. Balance work and play: As an athlete it is your job to perform, that’s a given, but when it comes to being on breaks you don’t need to be on the ball 24/7 training until you get back to school. That defeats the whole purpose of a break. Find time to go out with your friends, have family game night, eat dessert, stay up late, read a book, and find another hobby. Find the balance in what is going to make you happy while still making the strides to help your team.
  4. Have something fun planned for when you get back to school: Talk to your coach and see if you can come up with an event that incorporates, team bonding and competition for when you get back to school. Our team does an event called “The Holiday Extravaganza,” where there are three teams and each team dresses up in costumes and compete in a 3v3 tournament, shootout, fastest skater, accuracy shooting, and best dress competition. We find out what team we are on when we are on winter break. This allows the girls to start to talk to one another and form ideas. Ultimately “The Holiday Extravaganza” gets the team even more excited to come back.

    This year "Holiday Extravaganza" winners, Mario Party!

    This year “Holiday Extravaganza” winners, Mario Party!

Student Athlete Guide: Team Bonding

What are the key components of having a successful team? Well it’s obvious to think of things such as talent, passion, work ethic, flexibility, and skill; however I believe that the one component that is often overlooked is developing chemistry.

I don’t mean that you and your team should go rent out a lab and mix chemicals together and hope not to blow anything up, but rather find ways to connect with each other both inside and outside the sport. I get that when you play a sport at an elite level you have to do your job despite whether if you like who you are working with. I am just trying to imagine the 1980 Soviet Union Men’s National Hockey Team being all kumbaya around a campfire and I just can’t. So maybe they weren’t such a team bonding bunch maybe that worked for them. However during the 1980 Olympics they were beaten by Team USA who under Herb Brooks was known for developing team building exercises, no matter how nontraditional they may be…. AGAIN!

So when asked what makes a successful team I believe that there is a formula (sticking with this whole chemistry theme). That formula is team bonding = trust, trust translates into chemistry, and chemistry = success. Mind blowing stuff I know.

When it comes to picking out the right team bonding activity, you should take into account the types of personalities that are on your team. You also want an activity that is going to push people out of their comfort zone and have to rely on others to get the job done, all while working on a college budget.

Taking in all these factors of what makes a great team bonding experience, this year myself and the rest of the captains on our team came up with the idea to go Paintballing. We (the captains) knew that our team wanted to be active when it came to a team bonding exercise.  We also knew that paintball would be a great stress reliever… I’ll admit it felt kinda good to shoot some of your teammates endlessly. However most importantly we knew that we would have to work together in a high stress/anxiety situation.

So when the day came to go to Team Paintball, things got real. Girls showed up decked out camouflage and war paint, trash talking was spewing, and nobody blinked an eye when it came to firing away at a teammate. The staff over at AAA Paintball ran our team through 3 different courses throughout the forest. The first course was a tank field, second course was capture the flag, and third was defend the castle.

At the end of the day everyone was covered in blood, bruises, paint, welts, sweat, and mud. We came together as a team and when it was all over we were laughing, comparing battle scars and explaining our heroic stories of how we shot up a teammate. We all than went to an early dinner together and the conversation turned to hockey and how we were all so excited for it to finally begin. Hearing that talk about hockey just reinforced the idea that this team bonding experience was a success. After a long preseason where people were starting to lose focus, we were able to provide an activity to reignite the passion of why we play hockey. That’s because team bonding activities bring out for the competitiveness, the friendship, the family, the strategy, the excitement but most importantly for the love of the game.

 

The Oswego State 2015-2016 Hockey Team at AAA Paintball

 

Student-Athlete Guide: Superstitions

Superstition, Noun- a widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice based on such a belief.  You wanna see superstitions in action all you have to do is walk into any locker-room before a game and simply observe. These observations will reveal that some players have a routine that brings them comfort and others that boarder the line of insanity.

I border the line of insanity.

In my defense I think I get my superstitious habits from my mother. Stuff like that is hereditary right? I believe that there is nothing wrong with having superstitions when it comes to sports. I feel that it helps focus you into the game and finding a routine that gets you ready to play. I can tell you at exactly what time a player will be doing something on our team. Whether it is eating a certain food, talking to a certain person, or stretching in a different location, it is very easy to pick up on other teammates habits.

I am not going to explain all my superstitions to you because I would like to remain as a sane person in your eyes but when it comes to my superstitions I like to incorporate other people. I play soccer with one teammate, have a bite to eat with another one, and have handshakes with about half my team. But the thing about incorporating someone else into your routine is that it builds a sense of trust. I find comfort in my routine I also find comfort in regards to being around the person I do that routine with. If you are comfortable with someone that builds trust and trust in someone translates out into a game situation.

It’s when people get so obsessed with completing their routine is when things can get out of hand, and it can hinder your performance. For example let’s say your bus is running late to get you to an away game, which causes your pregame warm-up to be sped up. Are you going to be the type of player that lets the chaos of not being able to do your routine get to you, to the point of that’s all you think about during the game. Or are you going to be the type of player to adapt to the chaos and shift you’re routine to make things work.

I know of some coaches who are well aware of how a routine brings their players comfort. But in life and especially in sports you can never except to always be comfortable… that’s too boring. So these coaches will sometimes purposely mess up a game day routine to make their players adapt and learn how to deal with chaos.

That’s all sports is, is controlled chaos. That’s why it doesn’t surprise me that athletes look to build a routine that becomes superstitions to find that sense of comfort. However there needs to be a give and take relationship with those superstitions.

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Members of the 2013 Oswego State Women’s Ice Hockey Team participate in a soccer pregame tradition. The same tradition continues today in 2015.

Student Athlete Guide: Hold The Rope

Considering this is my senior year of collegiate athletics and ultimately last year of a true competitive sports season, now more than ever do I want to win. I get it, “winning isn’t everything,” but try saying that to any senior athlete and see what their response might be.  Everyone wants to go out with a bang in their final season, why would you want to settle for anything less?

Here is an example, I am sure we all at one point in our lives have been put in the position of missing the season finale of one of your favorite TV shows.  Something came up where you are unable to watch the show live. So what do you do? You shut off your phone, you avoid any public areas and social media, and you are  so high strung that you would curse out anyone who even slightly mentions what happened in the show (guilty). Why do we do that? Why do we go through such measures to make sure our show isn’t spoiled? It’s because we dedicated and invested our heart and souls into an entertainment program and we want to be in control to see what happens and don’t want anyone else to ruin it.

The same concept goes for sports.

One of our captains on our team came up to me and showed me an article that she wanted to read for our team. As I read over it, I was blown away by the message that it portrayed. The theme was quite simple, all you have to do is hold the rope. How many teammates when you look around the room would you trust to pull you up from a cliff that would lead to your death. How many of those teammates would be willing to let the rope burn their hands and blood drip just to save you?

It is a powerful concept, and when we read it to our team it was clear that not everyone trusted one another to hold the rope for them. However that trust throughout our team has been building during our preseason and people are starting to buy into the concept of exceeding expectations.

Throughout my career whenever I came up short in making it to the big dance, I was extremely upset and disappointed but I always knew that there would be a “next time.” It’s been three years of me saying “we will get it next time,” but now there is no next time. No do overs. No shoulda coulda woulda. There is only right here, right now.

So when it comes down to winning it’s all pretty black and white. All you have to do is answer this one question. Will you hold the rope?