Sophomore skates her way to USA hockey team
Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 01:09
Sophomore defender Morgan McGrath has joined Team USA for the World University Games in women’s hockey. McGrath will travel to Trentino, Italy in December to represent her country.
Miami University women’s hockey assistant coach Jim Stearns said McGrath excels in defending and playing people one-on-one.
“She’s very tough to beat,” he said. “Her specialty has always been stopping the other team.”
Team captain and senior left wing Nikki Stancampiano said it is not just McGrath’s playing skills that make her a great player.
“I would say she is extremely dedicated and hardworking,” Stancampiano said. “In addition to her talents, her hockey talents, she is very positive and has a strong work ethic; she gets along with everyone.”
McGrath, who has been playing hockey for 16 years, said she is excited, but the news has not sunk in yet.
“When my coach told me last season I was nominated, especially as a freshman you don’t let yourself think it’s going to happen because what are the chances,” she said. “So then when I got the call the beginning of this year…I was just elated and it was an incredible feeling.”
McGrath said, as far as she knows, the only time Team USA will be able to practice together will be while they are in Italy, leaving the U.S. on Dec. 3.
“I assume we’d have a few practice times before we play because you’re taking girls from all over the country, but I don’t think any of that happens in the States,” McGrath said.
Stearns said McGrath’s success is a huge step for her, and also a benefit to the Miami team.
“This is a huge accomplishment for us,” Stearns said. “Our program is going into its third full year and to have someone picked this early is a significant accomplishment. For those better players who are thinking of coming to Miami they know it can be done out of Miami so it’s very important.”
Stearns added, of all people, McGrath is the most deserving of an accomplishment this huge.
“This is an example of great things happening to great people,” Stearns said. “She’s a great player, she is unassuming, humble, she’s just a great person and I think that’s the best thing for us. We’re just thrilled to see something like this happen to someone like her.” However, McGrath said that without her team she would not have made it to where she is now.
“I could never have been in this position now if it weren’t for my team last year,” McGrath said. “I couldn’t have done it without all of them and I wish I could bring them all with me. As excited as I am for Italy I really can’t wait for our season to start. Our team is growing every year, this season is going to be just as fantastic if even more so.”
Although this is a huge accomplishment for her sports life, McGrath said this will mean she will miss a couple of games for the Miami team, finals and a good chunk of the last part of the semester.
“My professors were more than understanding about it, it’s not something I’m ever going to get to do again and this is pretty cool,” McGrath said. “All of them have said they’ll figure something out, don’t worry about it, congratulations. I couldn’t have asked for a better response.” As a biophysics major and neuroscience minor, McGrath said she does not have a light workload, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and she will have more classes and more exams in the future.
The Miami team members will miss her, but also understand the significance of her accomplishment. “We will definitely miss her but we’re so proud of her and it’s such an honor to have someone on our team that’s named to Team USA,” Stancampiano said. “We’re just really proud and excited for her, this is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity.”
McGrath said she would like to go to medical school after graduating and that college will likely be the end of her hockey career.
“College is kind of it, you get your four years to play and you make the most of them,” she said. “Spending my December playing for the United States is certainly something I’m going to remember and it’s kind of a great way to wrap up my hockey career.”