Accomplishing Dream of Playing D-I Hockey, PDS Alum Ofner Making Strides for Sacred Heart
Megan Ofner was constantly on the go during her years with the PDS girls’ hockey team.
Ofner emerged as a pivotal player from the moment she hit the ice for PDS as a freshman in 2008, ending up her Panther career with 124 points, including 32 points in her senior season on 19 goals and 13 assists.
At the same time, Ofner was playing travel hockey for such high-powered programs as the New Jersey Rockets in northern Jersey and the Quakers in West Chester, Pa.
Ofner still made time to distinguish herself in the classroom and serve as one the school’s Athletic Association Co-Heads.
During the summers, Ofner’s schedule was just as hectic as she played in camps and took part in college showcases such as the RinkSport program.
For Ofner, her frenetic activity was directed at a single goal. “I started thinking about playing hockey in college when I was accepted at PDS,” said Ofner.
“Playing Division I was the dream. In women’s hockey, there is no professional league. D-I is the highest level you can achieve.”
After looking at a variety of college programs, Ofner achieved that aim as she found a home with the D-I women’s hockey program at Sacred Heart.
The realization that Ofner accomplished her dream hit home as she stood on the ice before Sacred Heart’s season opener against RIT this past October.
“The first game was one of the most amazing days,” recalled Ofner. “I was one of the few freshmen to dress for the game. It was great to hear the national anthem and hear the names of players announced over the loudspeaker. I am so grateful and thankful to have this opportunity.”
Ofner acknowledged that she had to go through some ups and downs to get to the opener.
“We started off-ice with the coach on the second week of school,” said Ofner.
“The first day of practice on the ice was intimidating, as it would be for anybody. I saw that I could keep up with the seniors and the other upperclassmen. I was learning so much from them and I felt like I belong.”
Going through that learning curve has involved some adjustment physically. “The speed and size is the biggest difference between college and high school,” explained the 5’8 Ofner.
“In high school, I was an 18-year-old playing against 14- and 15-year-olds. Here, I am 18-year-old playing against 22-year-olds.”
While Ofner played forward for PDS, she is playing defenseman for the Pioneers.
“I played defense all the way through in travel,” said Ofner, who has tallied two assists in 20 appearances so far this season for the Pioneers. “I will play anywhere the team needs me.”
Sacred Heart head coach Tom O’Malley likes the way Ofner has fulfilled the team’s needs on the blue line.
“We were loaded with forwards and we are graduating two impact players on May,” said O’Malley.
“We thought we would get Megan accustomed to playing defense. We thought it would be a way for her to move up the ladder and become an impact player. Megan is doing a nice job; she has been thrown into the fire on occasion and she has stepped up.”
O’Malley attributes Ofner’s smooth transition to her diligence. “She is one of the hardest workers on the team, hands down,” asserted O’Malley.
“She comes in hard and works everyday in practice. She takes it seriously; she wants to become the best hockey player she can be. She will approach me in practice and say ‘coach, what can I do to get better.’”
In addition, Ofner has been a good fit with the team and on campus, prompting O’Malley to suggest that she join the school’s Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC), an organization which serves to bridge communication between student-athletes and administration.
“On the ice, in the bus, and at team meals, the kids gravitate to her,” added O’Malley.
“Because of who Megan is, I asked her if she wanted to get involved in the SAAC. She strikes me as a mature person and I wanted her to get involved on the ground floor. She is a genuine person, she is not fake. She works hard in school and is doing really well academically.”
Ofner, for her part, has already developed deep bonds with her teammates.
“In a way, we are forced to be friends but it is great,” said Ofner. “We all have the same goals and the love for the game.”
With the Pioneers having posted a 4-3-1 record in January to improve to 11-11-2 overall, Ofner’s goal is to help the team build on its promising start to 2013.
“After holiday break, things have been clicking,” asserted Ofner. “We know each other’s skills better and we are complementing each other better on the ice. I have great hopes for the team. I want to do what I can to help the team do well and get more wins.”