ANA MEDINA ’16
It is common to hear that, after high school, students will delay their college education to dedicate themselves intensely to a sport. This is exactly what Ryan Cole ’17 did when he played for the Lincoln Stars and Indiana Ice in the United States Hockey League and then for the Amarillo Bulls of the North American Hockey League.
Growing up in Anchorage, Alaska, Cole comments that, “…hockey is more than a game. It’s a way of life. Almost all of my friends played hockey and every elementary, middle, and high school had an outdoor rink.” Raised in an environment that fostered such passion and admiration for the sport, Cole knew hockey would be his way of life. “Playing in front of packed stadiums with the bands playing and classmates lining up two hours before game time. It eventually just became a lifestyle and something I loved,” he recalls.
Cole participated in the Alaska All Stars hockey program from the age of seven to the age of 16. Afterwards, he transferred to Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire for his sophomore year of high school and upon graduating, was drafted by the Lincoln Stars. He played with the team a few months before being traded to Indiana Ice. Again he had a short experience there as he was then traded to the Amarillo Bulls. He played for the Amarillo Bulls for his final two seasons before arriving at Trinity College.
Commenting on his two years playing junior hockey, Cole states, “It was a great time for me to grow as a hockey player and a person. I also matured physically, something I attribute my success to at the college level.” While playing for a junior hockey league was demanding work, Cole did not use that time to completely neglect his academics. He attended community college courses to keep up with his schoolwork. In addition to this, he also ran a charity and held a job to help pay for his expenses.
Cole expresses that his favorite part of the experience was the freedom he was granted. “…you are basically living on your own so you really have to grow up and learn to take care of yourself and make your own decisions,” he says. In addition, Cole states that he also enjoyed playing in front of the large crowds; some were as large as 9,000 people! Despite the perks, Cole acknowledges that there were also some cons. “My least favorite part was probably the length of the season. We arrived in late August and the season was not over till mid-May in which we played over 80 games and maybe had five days off the whole season.”
Starting out in Alaska and then moving to Nebraska, Indiana, and Texas, one can’t help but wonder how Cole came to Connecticut. “My brother Brandon Cole ’17 was being recruited by Coach Matt Greason and I decided to visit with him. After seeing the school and the hockey facilities I knew I was in the right place,” he answers. While it is only Cole’s first semester at Trinity he mentions that his favorite part about campus is the support our students show for the athletic teams. As of now, he hopes to double major in Economics and Philosophy. He states that his ultimate goal is, “obviously…to get a degree and move on to a strong law school. Besides that, I really hope to lead our hockey team to a NCAA National Championship. I believe we have the talent and the heart to do some big things, it’s just a matter of when, not if.” In addition to keeping up with his academics and playing hockey, Cole hopes to join Habitat for Humanity and work on some community service projects with them.
As for his first game of the college hockey season, “…it was mostly just adjusting to the speed and style of play. Where junior hockey is much more offensive, fast paced and physical, college hockey is much more defensive and system oriented,” Cole states. Despite the adjustment, he felt that towards the end, once all the nerves had calmed down, the team overall began to play a lot smoother. Part of what encouraged the team so much was the enthusiastic crowd supporting them. “…when we see the student support like that we elevate our game significantly. So I wanted to thank everyone that came out and supported us and showed that Trinity College has the best home ice advantage in the NESCAC,” he comments.
Still fresh in his undergraduate career Cole expresses his desire to play professional hockey after college, preferably somewhere in Europe. However, if that does not work out he hopes to go back to Alaska and work with his father as an attorney.