I had the opportunity to sit down with one of Hope College's finest upcoming star on the Varsity hockey team: Steven Skawski. Steven is a sophomore here at Hope College and I have known him for almost two years now. He is a great player and a better friend. Enough of me talking, let's see what Steven has to say.
Q: What position do you play?
R: I play defense. I’m not really sure how to expand on that.
Q: Have you always been a defensemen?
R: Ever since I started playing at the local YMCA…which is a local outdoor rink.
Q: Where did you go to high school?
R: I went to York community High school, which is based out of Elmhurst, IL; a western suburb of Chicago. Go Dukes!
Q: Why did you choose to go to Hope?
R: Hope was a school that fit my academic needs with their highly qualified education program. Also factoring in to the equation was that I could play competitive hockey at the DIII ACHA level. And the attractive Dutch females.
Q: How is college hockey different from high school hockey?
R: The college level has about 50% fewer games which means there is more at stake during each collegiate game. Hope’s progam is a much more competitive program than my high school team. Hope hockey has a target on their back each and every night we skate.
Q: How do you warm up for hockey games?
R: Usually I go to the Kletz for some chicken quesadillas, then I take a half hour nap to some soft instrumental music, play a couple games of FIFA 2012 with my buddy Jon Workman to get my mind racing and yea that’s about it.
Q: How do you mentally prepare for hockey games?
R: Most of my mental preparation elicits itself by playing FIFA 2012, but I also take a few minutes to visualize game scenarios once I am at the rink. Prayer is also important.
Q: Where is your favorite place to play and why?
R: The Jolly Roger, which is Calvin’s home rink in Grand Rapids. Although I love playing at home with our fans, I like to play against fans who haze the players because those games are more emotionally charged and there is nothing like walking out of the visitor’s barn with a “W.”
Q: Am I your number-one fan?
Q: What do you think you need to work on in order to improve your skills?
R: Lets see…obviously strengthening my legs is a necessity. I also like to improve my stick handling by dangling in the Kollen hall basement in the wee hours of the night with some tunes bumpin’. Also, practice helps Nick Cornicelli (Steven’s defensive partner) and I develop our already strong chemistry.
Q: Will Hope win the National Championship this year?
R: I’m not one to make guarantees, but our slogan this year is “burn the boats,” which means we are not coming back without our rings.
Q: What do you think of my new haircut?
R: Looks great, but in hockey terms, the flow is severely lacking.
Q: Is there a secret to keeping your flow raging?
R: Absolutely. There are critical points during the season where you need to trim it up; Thanksgiving break, fall break, and winter break.
Q: Do you have a most memorable goal?
R: My only collegiate goal against Detroit Mercy. It was a wrister from the point that beat the goalie low, glove-side to break the 0-0 tie less than a minute in to the game.
Q: If/when you score your next goal, what will your celebration be?
R: I like to act like I have been there before, but if it happens to be a key goal I might do an ice drag and throw some snow in to the air.
Q: Is it difficult to balance school, social life, and hockey?
R: Yes, but since I do not need sleep it’s not too bad.
Q: If you could change positions, which position would you switch to?
R: Left wing. I consider myself an explosive player and playing left wing enables me to get loose on a break away.
Q: Which NHL team would be your dream team to play for? Why?
R: As a Chicago boy, I would have to go with the Blackhawks. I would love to be on the same line as Duncan Keith.
Q: Which fraternity has the best fan-base?
R: The Fraters (OKE) show enthusiasm at the games they attend. Also, they were the only ones who showed up to our morning semi-final game for the National Championship last year.
Q: Do you ever get nervous before a big game?
R: Of course, but nervousness in moderation helps improve performance and I keep that in mind.
Q: Would you like to include anything else?
R: I am extremely excited for the remainder of the season, in particular the comeback of Kevin Deane aka the Golden Boy of Hope College hockey.
I know this was a long post, but I encourage you to read through the whole thing. Steven has some great things to say about Hope College and their hockey team, who are currently ranked #1 in the Nation.