Men’s Hockey and Greek Life

It may surprise some people to know this, but varsity athletic teams at Colgate and all over the country are very similar to Greek organiza­tions in certain aspects. Members of a team spend a lot of time together. In fact, they probably see more of each other during the season than they see of anyone else. In the case of the Colgate men’s hockey team, which plays a long and gru­eling 34-game season stretching from October to April, they learn so much about each other’s habits and behavior that by the time a season is over the members of the team have become a band of brothers.

While fraternities have the pledging period to get to really know each other and forge those bonds of brotherhood, the hockey team has the off-ice condi­tioning in the pre-season, as well as the insanely long road trips that they partake in throughout the season, which may take them all the way to the corner of Michigan’s Upper Penin­sula, a 14-hour drive, just to use as an example. All in all, the ice hockey team does not feel a strong urge or need to join a fraternity.Given that it is a long-held belief that it is not allowed for a member of the Col­gate men’s hockey team to belong to a Greek organization, this is a good feeling to have.

“I’ve never really been told why we’re not sup­posed to join frats,” senior assistant captain Wade Poplawski said. “I guess it’s sort of an unwritten rule, but then again, I’ve never really opposed the rule and I don’t think any of the guys on our team have a problem with it.”

This has not always been the case, however, since the ice hockey team was in a fraternity as re­cently as the 1970s. Similar to the way that Delta Upsilon is known as the “football frat,” Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) was known as the “hockey frat.” The 1970s have traditionally been consid­ered as one of the wildest periods of the twentieth century, especially in colleges and universities, and it is safe to assume that at Colgate this trend was no different. In those years, the men’s hockey team was a part of all of it, though those who were members had to juggle their commitment to Greek Life with their responsibilities to­wards the sport they loved, as well as the classroom.

Nowadays, however, the daily life of a hockey player is too hectic that it does not al­low for a member of the team to partake in that aspect of Colgate life.

“I don’t really think our schedule lends itself to being in a frat anyways,” Poplawski said. “If we’re not playing or practicing for a contest, then we usually have some other type of team function or academic responsibility or duty going on at the time.”

While men’s hockey play­ers are not really against Greek Life, they do feel a bit indifferent towards it. Given that the bonds they create amongst themselves are just as strong as those created within fraternities, they do not feel they are missing out on something. They do believe, however, that for those teams that do de­cide to partake in fraternity life, the athletic team and its well-being should always come first.

“I feel that the hockey team, despite not being in a fraternity, has its own sense of brotherhood, simi­lar to fraternity life, given the amount of time that we spend together both at school and on the road for games,” sophomore for­ward Christian Long said. “We all enjoy each other’s company and are always hanging out together out­side of the rink or weight room, so we don’t really feel the need to be part of a fraternity. Our fraternity is our team. I feel that in any varsity sport at Colgate, the team will take precedent over Greek Life because a team’s success is the main reason, along with the academics, for which the student-athletes here chose Colgate.”

The men’s hockey team does recognize and respect, however, the importance of Greek Life to the Colgate campus and understands that it is an essential part of the Colgate experience for numerous members of the community.

“I think Greek Life at Colgate is huge for the student body and many people enjoy it, and I respect this,” Long said. “That being said, with hockey we do not get very many opportunities to experience fraternity life, so we are kind of indifferent to it. As for ath­letics, I know individuals from other sports teams join fraternities and sororities and en­joy it, and that is neat for them to be able to be a part of that.”

Poplawski seems to share a similar point of view to that of Long’s in regards to Greek Life’s influence on the Colgate campus and athletics in general.

“To be honest, I don’t really know much about Greek Life here, since I’ve never seriously con­sidered joining a frat,” Poplawski said. “It just seems to me that being in a sport with a schedule as demanding and lengthy as hockey’s is, you would be dividing your time between two teams if you were to join one. I think we’re all committed and dedicated enough to be­ing successful on the ice every year that we’re willing to sacrifice some of the things that others enjoy in order to accomplish what we want.”

While it may be obvious that no men’s hockey player will be joining a Greek organiza­tion anytime soon, one should expect to see the healthy relationship between Greek Life and the hockey team, as well as athletics in general, to continue as such. After all, whether members of a fraternity or a varsity sports team, all these individuals share a common goal, which is to make their four years at Colgate the best they possibly can.