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With Honors

2 March 2017

The Final Faceoff is almost here! I’m maybe a little bit excited/anxious/terrified. The WCHA announced their awards today, and to say tUMD cleaned up would be underselling the team’s success. Coach of the Year, Player of the Year, Student-Athlete of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, 1x First Team All-WCHA, 2x Second Team All-WCHA, 2x Third Team All-WCHA, 1x All-Rookie Team, and 16x All-Academic Team. That is DOMINANT.

One of my good friends is a professor at UWS (or UW Super, which I cannot type without cringing with fremdschämen), and several of her students are on the women’s hockey team. Since she knows I love hockey, she and I have attended a few of their games together. (Seriously, she is the best, if a student has an event, she will attend it. Games, plays, etc.) She always tells her students that the programs should list their majors, to better emphasize the student in student-athlete, and also to let her students (biology majors) show that not all hockey players major in recreation and tourism or underwater basketweaving.

Schools don’t do enough in general to emphasize what their students are studying. I mean, I understand that, say, Alabama football does not emphasize what their players’ tutors are taking for them, but most athletic departments are not de facto money laundering conduits for rich, shady donors, and their students work very hard to juggle a full load of classes, practices, games, and travel. I did some mild number crunching to produce some colorful graphs to illustrate some of the facts about the WCHA All-Academic team demographics.

The average number of All-Academic team athletes per school was 14.25. Bemidji and UMTC lead the way with 17, but tUMD is right behind them. Both tUMD and Bemidji have almost every single eligible player represented on the team (I didn’t check any other schools). For perspective, most rosters have around 22-25 players (some fewer, duhOSU only has 20, and 8 of them are freshmen, so they still have 75% of their eligible players on the All-Academic Team). This is a fantastic achievement for the WCHA teams!

By position, forwards dominate, but there are also more forwards than defenders on rosters. I didn’t bother to compare whether any position is doing better or worse proportionally, because I just thought of it now. Maybe I will crunch those numbers tomorrow. If I had to guess, goalies would be performing best proportionally. Maybe we’ll see. Goalies and forwards are represented at a slightly higher rate on the team than among the overall population of players, and defenders and hybrids are represented at a slightly lower rate. (Note that this is based on the overall rostered players, not eligible rostered players. That’s too much work.)

I know you’re probably saying “Dohkay, RWD, they’re all exercise science majors.” I know this because someone already said this to me tonight, and I haven’t even published this stupid post! But that’s not true, anyway. I grouped the majors by categories I made up (because listing each individual major looks stupid). If you’re wondering, exercise science falls under “applied science.”

These numbers are sort of jacked up because Mankato, duhOSU, and St. Cloud do not list majors (except tOSU lists Julianna Iafallo’s), and Wisconsin does not list everyone’s major. I guess I can write in “communications” for everyone else. Oh wait, this is not tUMD’s men’s team.

I looked at where the players were from, geographically. Almost 2/3 of the players are from the US. I’m not sure how that stacks up against the percentage of American women playing in the WCHA, but there are more Americans in the WCHA than I expected. The second image shows how the proportion of players on the All-Academic Team compares to the proportion of rostered players from each region. The makeup is pretty similar: Americans slightly underperform, Canadians perform about the same, and Europeans overperform. There are 14 total European women in the WCHA, 12 made the All-Academic Team, and the other 2 are freshmen and thus ineligible. That means 100% of eligible Europeans made the team. Extra congratulations to all the women for whom English is not their preferred language! The third image illustrates the home states/provinces for North American players. It doesn’t say much but I wanted to use that feature in Google Sheets.

Let’s give a virtual standing ovation to the women of the WCHA All-Academic Team! Considering 100% of the schools in the WCHA are party schools, hockey spans both semesters, and women’s hockey players don’t get to fart around in class and sign contracts for millions of dollars when they finally face academic ineligibility, they’re a pretty amazing, persevering bunch!

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