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Ice Hockey Players Brave the Commute

When the school bell rings at 2:15 every day, most athletes are already dreading a long hike down to the fieldhouse or to the Wakeman athletic fields.

Ice hockey players, meanwhile, have not just a long walk, but a half hour drive ahead of them every day just to practice.

Since Westport and its surrounding towns lack a suitable rink for hockey to be played on, the boys’ team has no choice but to commute 20 miles each way to the Milford Ice Pavilion.

“We spend a lot of time commuting to practice, but we car pool so we don’t really mind,” said boys’ tri-captain Aaron Liu ’12.

One of Liu’s fellow tri-captains, Riley MacDonald ’12, added that despite the hike, “it’s well worth it to be part of the team. We form strong bonds and I really enjoy being a part of it.”

The team has to depart immediately after school lets out in order to make it to the rink in time for practice to begin at 3:15. Since they can’t get ice time for another hour, the team does off-ice training such as calesthenics or weight lifting to productively pass the time until it is time to lace up their skates and hit the ice at 4:20.

Icetime concludes at six, at which time the team usually has a meeting for about half an hour, before finally leaving the rink at 6:30. Depending on traffic, the players typically arrive home around seven to quarter after seven.

Junior Wyatt Fern, a forward for the team, acknowledged that getting home this late can be tough academically since by the time players have showered and eaten dinner, very little time is left in the evening for homework or studying. Still, being a member of the squad is far from an academic death sentence.

“Even though it’s a big time commitment, I manage to be successful on the ice and in the classroom,” MacDonald said. “You have to have discipline since we spend so much time at practice”

Besides the rigors of travel, the team suffers from the difficulty of never having a home game.

“Having every away game sucks because we don’t get a lot of fans, usually none besides parents and players’ close friends,” Fern said.

However, there are exceptions, such as the heated FCIAC matchup versus St. Joes last year, drew huge crowds, which Fern thinks provided them with a bit of an unexpected edge.

Despite the fact that it’s geographically located in Milford, Liu disagreed with the notion that having every game being away is a bad thing.

“At first it is hard having games be away but then you don’t even think about it. Milford has become our home and we really enjoy playing their,” Liu said.

Meanwhile, the girls’ team suffers from the same issue of commuting, which has made recruiting students to be members of the team difficult. For the first time this year, the team has had to enter into a co-op program with Trumbull.

One former ice hockey team member, Olivia Kappel ’14, finally decided that enough was enough just before the holiday recess.

“Practices and games can be up to four hours door-to-door, and after adding that schedule five or six times a week to my serious commitment to music, I found it impossible to continue to do both.”

So what keeps other players to put up with the travel to games and practices? In the end, it simply comes down to having a passion for the game.

“I love the sport, so I would not be able to give it up, and I think the same goes for the rest of our team,”Liu said.

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Will McDonald
Will McDonald, Managing Editor
At first glance, one would never know the special title senior Will McDonald holds in the Inklings room. “Ms. McNamee says I have the worst handwriting she’s seen in 20 years,” McDonald says. He admits this with pride, and from the look of his notes, with confidence that he will maintain that reputation. McDonald also lives with the struggle of sharing his name with a school janitor. Between receiving email requests to fix pipes and teachers frustrated by a lack of response to their emails, the situation has become a big mess. McDonald wasted no time getting involved with Inklings as a freshman and now along with his impressive handwriting title he is the current managing editor. Before his current position he had been a sports and news editor. His favorite pieces of work would be his article “When Stealing’s Not A Crime” and his front-page graphic for the Sandy Hook edition. On top of his position on the Inklings staff, McDonald is also the captain of the boy’s cross-country team. He spent his summer working at the Sherwood Island Nature Center. Outside of work and school McDonald likes to read, watch movies, listen to music by Mumford & Sons and enjoy pancakes at his favorite restaurant, Chips. As McDonald approaches this year at Inklings he shares, “knowing that this is my final year is saddening, but at the same time exciting because of all of the great things that I know are still left to be accomplished”.

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