Summit’s Hanna Markel makes D-1 women’s hockey debut with University of Minnesota-Duluth
Special to the Daily
Committing to an NCAA Division I hockey team is a dream for many kids who play the sport. But most never see it come to fruition — and it’s not for lack of effort. These days, less than 1 percent of players who begin playing the game make it to the collegiate level, and less than 1 percent of those players make it all the way to the professional level.
In a sport as saturated with talent as hockey, it is truly an amazing accomplishment for those who make it. The latest is local talent and recent Division I recruit Hanna Markel. The 17-year-old has committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth women’s hockey team and becomes the second local female player to commit at the highest level of collegiate play, behind only Jackie Koetteritz, who played for Union College of New York.
Markel started playing hockey at about 8 or 9 years old for Summit Youth Hockey Association. What made her want to play hockey, and who has influenced her the most in her young career? It was one of her best friends and local AAA player, Luke Marsh, who encouraged her to play, she said.
Markel was hooked on her first taste of hockey, but it wasn’t until she was about 10 or 11 when she discovered her true calling between the pipes as a goaltender. Being a goalie in hockey is one of the most challenging positions in any team sport. The best goalies must possess uncanny flexibility and balance, explosive fast-twitch muscle memory and mental fortitude of the highest degree, since almost every mistake you make shows up on the scoreboard.
“I’m not sure why I wanted to play goalie,” Markel said. “I just did, and once I tried it I was hooked. It’s a very different position and nothing within the game is ever the same for you once you have played.”
Moving on up
A few short years later, Markel was chosen for the Colorado Select Girls Hockey program, through which she quickly accelerated her training and began creating opportunities for elite play with standout performances in the net.
Fast-forward a few more years and her hard work paid off, as she was accepted into the Northwood School in Lake Placid, New York. She left Summit High after her sophomore year to attend Northwood, where she battled for (and won) the starting position on the school’s girl’s prep hockey team.
With the help of her current coach at Northwood, Markel made contact with several collegiate programs, including UMD, and started building a dialogue. This UMD connection put her on the radar at one of the most respected hockey programs in the NCAA. After visiting the campus, she knew it was where she wanted to be and expressed interest in playing for the university.
Markel had the grades to be accepted at UMD, but she needed some help with her standardized test scores. After a great deal of studying, she posted the scores she needed and her performance on the ice did the rest.
With Markel’s commitment, she becomes the second former Summit hockey player to sign with a Division I team. Her advice for younger players trying to reach the next level is simple: Set goals and have fun.
“Work hard and have a goal — don’t be content with what is in front of you,” Markel said. “Have a goal you want to make possible, but make sure you’re having fun because it’s worthless if you aren’t having fun doing it.”
When her career at UMD begins, Markel hopes to battle for a spot on the team and learn a lot about the game. She’s especially excited to see what it takes to play and compete at the highest collegiate level. She’s come a long way from ice rinks in her hometown, but she’ll never forget her roots in the Rockies.
“In Summit, the greatest memories were playing on the outdoor rink,” Markel said. “There was nothing quite like the feeling of an outdoor game and we got to do it all the time. Hockey is a family. That’s the biggest constant wherever you go — different people from all over come together over the love of the game.”
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