College, for many, marks the first time away from home. New responsibilities kick in, as the student experiences being in control of their life.
But not every student’s college experience – or responsibilities – are the same. The Michigan State men’s club hockey team recently received a first-hand look at how its peers in the U.S. Naval Academy experience their college life.
The Spartans traveled to Annapolis, Maryland, to play two games in one of their biggest road trips of the year. MSU gets a whole experience, from playing the games to experiencing the daily routine of a cadet.
Naval Academy cadets have almost every aspect of their life scheduled, from dusk to dawn. From their meal times to study hours to the practice times for the multiple extracurricular activities they must participate in, it is a large contrast from the experience of MSU’s club hockey players.
“We had a cadet that was giving us the tour and he was explaining just how the day is and how structured it is. The first years there have about 10 minutes of free time a week that aren’t scheduled for them,” said Coach Jim Martin. “It is an eye-opener for the kids that go to college, at a college like here, just to see the rigor they have.”
Martin was excited when the opportunity arose to schedule the trip, as he remembered the experience a lot of his players had visiting a military academy for the first time. He has a many opportunities to choose from when creating the schedule, and likes to give his players unique experiences each season.
“We get a lot of invites to come to interesting places, because there is a lot of alumni anywhere we go,” said Martin.
The last time the Spartans made this trip to Annapolis was three years ago, so many of the players will be visiting for the first time.
“I have always been intrigued by what the town is like at a military academy. I have a couple of buddies there now, and everything for them is structured. They don’t have a lot of free time, but they say they love it there, so it will be interesting to see,” said MSU freshman Andrew Rosa. “We are playing against a top tier division one ACHA team, it is going to be really tough to keep up with their pace of play,”
The Spartans played Illinois to open the season, falling in both games to the only other Division I team they will face this year.
“Any time you go away from school to play it is really fun. You get a new culture, you get to see a new campus, you get to meet new guys, and play in a new rink. Those aspects is what makes this experience really cool,” said Rosa.
The trip’s excitement for the trip came at a somber time for the Naval Academy. Midshipman Jason Jablonski, an assistant captain for the Navy Club team, passed away over the Thanksgiving holiday from complications of leukemia.