Some VTSU Castleton students commute to school, or live on campus despite their homes being only an hour or so away.
They pack cars and drive here as freshmen to start their college lives.
But for many hockey players, getting here might involve boarding planes or driving hours – and only after a recruiting process.
Between the men’s and women’s hockey teams, this season there are a total of 13 freshmen with seven on the men’s team and six on the women’s. And each player comes with their own story of how the came to be at Castleton, from across the west coast of British Columbia, Canada to as far away as Norway and plenty of places in between.
And why they come here varies, though hockey is a common thread.
“The reason why I came to Castleton was mainly to follow my hockey career. I also wanted to be a part of a program that starves to win which in this case, is a no brainer,” said freshman Mateo Turrin.
Turrin, a Montreal, Quebec native played junior hockey three years after going to Holderness Prep School. He played two-and-a-half years of juniors in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) and half of a year in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL).
Turrin is only a three-hour drive north across the border from home, which in comparison to others, is not very far. But he has traveled across the whole of Canada coast to coast for hockey before landing in Vermont.
“The major difference I’ve noticed between junior hockey and college hockey is to have better time management and be proactive about things such as constant schedule planning,” Turrin said.
Coming from the other coast of Canada from Kimberley, British Columbia, is Cam Reid. The Kimberley born defensemen played two years of his four-year junior hockey career for his hometown Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) and the other two years with the Cranbrook Bucks of the BCHL where he scored the team’s first goal as a franchise.
“I decided to come to Castleton because I believed the benefits it provided my academics and athletics, could greatly impact my life after school. College hockey requires a lot smarter time management, as projects and assignment fill up most of your days. I like the culture both the classroom and my hockey team provide, making the transition from Kimberley to Castleton easy,” he said.
From countries away in the Czech Republic, Josef Vyvial came to Castleton after being in the states for a year before coming to Vermont. Playing his junior hockey in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania allowed him to experience the States.
“Playing college in the U.S. was always my dream. I got a call from Kyle, and I had a good feeling about it. I talked to a bunch of other schools too and Castleton just was the best option. Smaller college, in the country kind of. That’s what I wanted it to be,” Vyvial said.
On the women’s side, from a world away in Norway is Nora Pollestad, who played for the Stavanger Oilers, which was her hometown team. She came to Castleton this year with a very different path than most of her other teammates because she is from over 3,000 miles away.
“I choose Castleton because I want to experience the American college life and I liked the coach here,” she said.
Eva Hofmeister had a much different experience. She is a New England native and went to school at Vermont Academy before coming to Castleton. Vermont Academy, which is only about an hour east, is a boarding school where she played hockey at while attending school.
“When I was choosing a school, I didn’t want to be in a big school. I also wanted a hockey team that was close and always had each other’s back. I also wanted to be on a team that even if I didn’t get playing time, I would still be happy and enjoy my time there. When I walked onto the Castleton campus I instantly fell in love and when I went to the rink and met the team I felt so included and knew that I would have a forever home here. It reminded me of the boarding school I was attending. It’s been a great experience so far and I can’t wait for the further years to come,” said Hofmeister.