Hal Krenkel, had his chance to wear the maize and blue hockey jersey for the men’s club team, but as a freshman, opted to coach the women’s club team instead.
“They needed an assistant coach, and I had played competitively for so many years that I thought I’d relax and coach instead,” Krenkel said. “I knew I wasn’t going to turn pro, so why not?”
After one year as assistant coach, Krenkel was elevated to the head coaching position and has been with the team for all four of his years at Michigan.
The senior began his hockey career at the age of five in Larchmont, N.Y.
“Hockey was really big in my hometown, so I decided to try it,” Krenkel said.
He is hoping that someday, Michigan will convert the team to varsity status.
“It should (turn varsity) soon,” Krenkel said. “But there’s a lot of cost involved and a lot of money. We’d basically have to build a new rink – they have to have the same (facilities) as the men have now.”
Like their coach, many of the players were pushed onto the ice before they could even spell the word “hockey.”
“I’ve been playing since I was three years old,” team captain Tory Deleeuw said. “My dad was a hockey coach and my older brother played – it’s just what I grew up with. I love how fast-paced the sport is.”
The girls aren’t just together during games and practices, but outside the rink as well.
“They’re all my best friends,” sophomore Emily Roland said. ” I spend 95 percent of my time with them. Our games go so late, that it makes sense to hang out with them afterwards.”
“Many of us live together, we study together, hang out together,” Deleeuw said.
Even Krenkel spends time with his team off the ice.
“The only way it’s going to work is if on the ice I’m their coach and off the ice I’m their friend,” Krenkel said.
This weekend, the team had mixed results in three games, one in Kalamazoo against Western Michigan and two in Ann Arbor against Wisconsin.
The Wolverines finished off the weekend with two losses to the Badgers, 7-3 yesterday and 8-3 Saturday.
Roland believes it was the worst weekend of their season.
“We couldn’t pass, we couldn’t score,” Roland said. “The defense was being really slow, and we were swinging at their pucks and sticks instead of taking the whole body. We could have skated with them, but we just weren’t ready.”
These Wolverines shouldn’t feel too badly though considering they kicked off the weekend with one of their best games this year. Friday night, the Wolverines beat the Broncos 3-0.
“After the game we all sang ‘Hail to the Victors’ in the locker room,” Roland said.
Their next games are against Penn State Friday and Saturday night, played at midnight and 11 p.m., respectively in Yost Arena.
Win or lose, the players are absolutely devoted to the sport. Deleeuw says hockey for her won’t stop after graduating from Michigan – she’ll be playing for the rest of her life.
“I could never give it up,” Deleeuw said. “I’ll continue playing, whether it’s coaching or playing for my town’s local women’s team.”
Watch out Krenkel – perhaps this player will be next in line for the job.