Incoming college first years are always encouraged to try new things, join new clubs, and meet new people. Some students stick to things they have some familiarity with, while others dive head first in something they’ve never tried. On Sundays and Thursdays at the Springfield Hockey Arena, you will see many Swatties, first years through seniors, diving — well in this case, falling — into a new activity.
These people are of course, members of Motherpuckers, Swarthmore’s intramural hockey club. Motherpuckers is for students of all class years and skill levels. Many members have only skated a few times and never held a hockey stick while others are experienced skaters.
The club has the rink for two hours, with one hour dedicated for an open skate in which students are able to talk with their friends and casually skate around. During the other hour, students separate into groups based on their hockey ability and scrimmage.
For those with little experience, the club gives them the opportunity to improve their skating in a friendly environment on a biweekly bias. Those who have played hockey before, find that Motherpuckers allows them to maintain skills and continue skating. Some participants are student-athletes who can only participate when they are out of season. Either way, all participants, regardless of skill or athletic experience, tend to have a great time in a fun, non-judgemental environment.
Jaydeep Sangha ’22 started skating last year and has attended Motherpuckers on a regular basis ever since.
“It had been a while since I had last skated, so as a relatively novice skater I found the environment incredibly supporting to grow in my skating and hockey abilities, said Sangha.
Conor Gill ’21 attended his first Motherpuckers earlier in the year. After a long soccer season he was eager to try something new. He too notes the great club environment.
“I was interested in doing something active, but was more casual and that involved meeting some new people,” said Gill. “I found the environment especially welcoming — even the most experienced players were cheering on the first-time skaters in the rink.”
Mehra den Braven ’20, like Gill, is a student athlete and was encouraged by a friend to come and give the sport a chance.
“I have a friend on the team who raved about Motherpuckers so as soon as I had no more obligations to another sport, I jumped at the chance to join! Best decision ever.” said den Braven.
The club’s environment feeds its high return rate. Very few students come once and never come again, rather they encourage their friends to join them. This results in a club with a diverse class
“I definitely wish I could have started as a freshman, but either way you can learn a lot in only a couple weeks of going! Everyone is super friendly and accepting of all skating levels, so you really don’t have to know what you’re doing to join,” said den Braven.
Gill echoed similar sentiments about the club, but emphasized how the hockey gear (gloves, helmets, sticks, skates) Swarthmore provides the club is crucial to its inclusion.
“The stockpile of gear that the group has access to is pretty impressive, and allows for many Swatties of all shapes and sizes to give hockey a try on any given week,” said Gill. “I felt that, regardless of my skill level, the regularly attending Motherpuckers would encourage me to get better and better each time I went out on the ice. Frankly, it was a lot more fun than I expected it to be, and it was great to see so many people of varying skill levels out there.”
Josie Thrasher ’21, a club veteran, who grew up playing hockey in Minnesota, and understands how limited hockey playing opportunities are for noncompetitive players, appreciates how available the hockey is for all skill levels.
“My favorite aspect of the club is how accessible it makes hockey! No matter your experience, you get full access to gear and ice time to improve your skills at your own pace,” said Thrasher. “It’s easy to bring your friends with you, or to make new friends on the ice!”
This year the club received an unexpected resurgence in attendance. In previous years, the club would average around four to eight skaters on any given night. This year, however, the club is required to take multiple trips to the rink to accompany all its members. The large number of student participants have remained relatively constant throughout the semester, but have gradually increased over the past weeks. On the Thursday before Thanksgiving break, over thirty students attended.
Club leader, Jacob Springer ’21, credits this resurgence to more proactive recruiting methods.
“Last year the people who showed up were mostly friends of mine and yours, and occasionally people who were already on the mailing list. This semester, I had a booth at the activities fair and advertised on the Facebook group,” said Springer. “Once we had a solid base of about eight regulars, they began to recruit their friends, and we grew. Now we typically get between twelve to thirty people showing up every time.”
Eitherway, if you’re looking for a break from studying as the finals loom, you cannot go wrong with giving Motherpuckers a try.