ICE hockey players from Manchester Storm are excelling on the pitch and in the classroom thanks to a partnership programme with the University of Salford.
A new set of five players have just arrived to study for an MBA and play in the British Elite Ice Hockey League. They hope to build on a successful season last year, when players on Salford scholarships propelled the club to a second place finish in the league, its best ever finish since it was reformed.
Among the players combining time on the ice with time in the library and classroom is Canadian Shane Bakker. The forward explained why he is keen to combine his studies with playing: “I know people who have completed the scholarship previously and they said great things about it. They said it has been beneficial to them as well so I jumped on board.”
“I want to get involved in business somehow and I think this degree will really help.”
And fellow forward Rob Linsmayer, from the USA, said: “At some point hockey will run out and I’ll need something for the next part of my life so this is a great stepping stone for me.”
The players will combine three or four training sessions a week and playing two matches most weekends with the demands of completing an MBA.
Storm coach Ryan Finnerty, who was in charge for the record breaking season last year, said: “The players can’t speak highly enough of the staff and the help that they get from the University
“There’s a lot of University of Salford in the dressing room, whether they be alumni or new students. It makes such a difference for a club of our size to be able to offer these scholarships.
“The majority of our success last season was down to the Salford guys, they exceeded expectations on the ice and in the classroom.”
Senior Lecturer Dr Jonathan Lord, who leads teaching on the MBA course at the University, said he had been impressed with the commitment of the players to their studies.
He added: “They’re very determined, committed, conscientious people. They’re professional athletes so they’re bound to have those key attributes for studying at Post Graduate level.
“It complements what they want to do in terms of their career as well, they’re coming to the end of their ice hockey career and want to progress into business so they study on the MBA as well.
“They support other activities in the university as well, they get involved with the sports societies, students can go and watch the matches as well. They really have embraced all aspects of the university.”
Manchester Storm play their next game tomorrow (Saturday) night, 19:00 at the Planet Ice rink in Altrincham against Coventry Blaze. The evening will also involve the presentation of the Patton Conference Trophy which the club won last season, the first piece of silverware claimed since the club reformed.