Ice hockey team balancing school and sport

Amanda Vasil

Senior tandem leads by example, aims to set standard for team

Freshman Kyle Nova blocks a shot at the game Saturday, Nov. 19. The Flashes lost to Illinois, an undefeated team, 2-7.

Credit: Steve Schirra

Brett Kendig and Mike Henry are exactly what coach Curtis Carr is looking for.

As the only two seniors on a team of 30 players, Kendig and Henry have shown extreme dedication and commitment to the Kent State club ice hockey team, Carr said.

“They are what we want the new players to be,” Carr said. “They both have a passion and a love for the game, and their commitment is such that they made a commitment, and they’re going to honor it for the four years that they’re here. As much of a commitment as it is, I think they’d probably be bored and feel a little lost if they didn’t have this.”

The team has lost several players in the past because of academic ineligibility, but Kendig and Henry have continued to be academically successful since the beginning.

“I love to do it, and that’s why I do it,” Kendig, a three year captain, said. “A lot of kids come here as great players, but they don’t understand that they have to balance their schoolwork too, and they end up failing out.”

In four years down the road, Henry said he hopes to see 10 seniors on the team compared to just he and Kendig this season.

After attempting to play with other semi-pro hockey teams, Kendig decided to attend Kent State as a last-minute decision. Henry, on the other hand, came to Kent State specifically for academic reasons with no intent to play hockey. After spending his first year away from the game, he realized he wanted to continue what he had started in high school.

“Hockey was down there after high school,” he said. “I didn’t care about playing hockey after I graduated. But once I got here and found out they had a team, I decided I wanted to play. It means a lot more to me now.”

When both began playing at Kent State, they were shy and lacked self confidence. Over the years, they have been able to master their skills and become better leaders, Carr said.

“The biggest thing I noticed with Brett is that when he came in as a freshman he was quiet and had a tremendous amount of skill,” he said. “But Brett has learned how to use his skill to make others around him better.”

Henry said he has learned the value of working hard and leading vocally to help the team succeed.

“The new guys are looking up to you instead of you looking up, so you have to watch every little thing you do,” he said. “If you goof off in practice, they’re going to goof off in practice. You have to be careful about what you do.”

While Kendig said he likes to lead more by example, Carr said Brett has extreme talent and dedication that shows the players how the game needs to be played.

“It’s easy to have guys fall in line when your best player is also your hardest working player,” Carr said. “He definitely cares more about the team than himself. You couldn’t ask for a better player on the team.”

Ultimately, Carr said it’s going to be hard to replace two of the program’s most dedicated players.

“I just want them to keep coming and doing what they do every day,” he said. “I think they’ve already left their mark, and there’s going to be some pretty big shoes to fill. I’m not sure if we’ll ever have another two individuals who have cared about the program as those two guys.”

Carr said he sees both players still involved with hockey in the next few years.

For now, the team’s focus remains on the season and making it to the national tournament it March.

Contact sports reporter Amanda Vasil at [email protected].