Observing the Women's Ice Hockey team
In their off season, Hockey’s “social coordinators” (a position which also exists on the Lightweight rowing team) organize mixers with other sports teams on campus. These social gatherings are an opportunity for team members to interact outside of practice and form organic relationships among themselves. Like the rowing team, these social gatherings are where informal mentorship relationships are cultivated. Upperclassmen can make an effort to spend time with underclassmen at these sorts of events. Advice about what to wear, what to drink, and how to act at a mixer can be the first step in a mentorship relationship that eventually results in broader advice about improving athletic ability, balancing work and practice, and making life choices.
Social hierarchy among members of the hockey team is evident even in the weight room where every athlete, regardless of position, speed, or age is doing the same exercise. Freshmen can be seen filling and refilling water bottles for upperclassmen and allowing upperclassmen to have first choice of weights. I could tell who was younger by body language: hands clasped behind the back and eager eyes were evidence that younger Hockey players were waiting to be instructed by their elders. This sort of regimented hierarchy is supported by a formal system of mentorship among teammates. Each incoming freshman is assigned to a senior “buddy” who is responsible for reaching out to them before fall term begins, helping them settle in, and providing guidance throughout the academic year. Freshman Kate Glover and her buddy Kate Hallett have had an incredibly positive experience with this system. Kate Glover has found comfort in Kate Hallett as she made the transition to college. Further, the hockey team has financial resources supplied by the school and alum which allows athletes to practice comfortably- gear, facilities, and coach support is never an issue. Athletes know they can rely on their teammates, coaches, and the administration to meet their needs and replace their home support system when they come to college.