Tuck ice hockey league provides popular social outlet
By Sharla Grass, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, August 21, 2012
In the late hours of last fall’s Republican presidential debate, Murphy’s on the Green was filled with campaign strategists, politicians, news anchors and dozens of sweaty Tuck School of Business students, fresh from an ice hockey game.
“We walked in wearing Under Armour and shorts, trying to elbow through all these people to get drinks,” Justin Rodriguez Tu’13 said. “It might have been the highlight of my year.”
Rodriguez, who is one of four commissioners for the Tripod league, one of Tuck’s three ice hockey leagues, said that commissioners schedule ice time, organize the leagues and enforce rules, among other responsibilities. Each outgoing commissioner picks his or her successor in a competitive selection process, Rodriguez said.
The popularity of ice hockey leagues at business schools and particularly at Tuck was recently featured in an article in U.S. News and World Report on Friday.
Approximately 150 Tuck students and Tuck partners — significant others of Tuck students — field eight hockey teams each Fall term and six teams each winter. There are three levels of teams: A Team, B Team and Tripod, a level for beginners, Rodriguez said. Approximately 80 percent of participants play on Tripod teams.
Games start between 9 and 11 p.m. at Campion Ice Skating Rink in Lebanon or Thompson Arena on weeknights and occasionally on Friday nights, Rodriguez said. Nearly 100 people attended last year’s fall all-star game between first and second-year students, he said.
The fall league holds games from September to November, and winter league games are played from January to March. Fall is the “height of Tripod fever,” and 50 to 70 spectators often attend late November’s championship games, according to Rodriguez.
“The winter league is a ton of fun because there’s a point of time where as a school we all take a bus trip up to Montreal,” Rodriguez said. “The A and B Teams play some teams from Montreal and the women’s Tripod team plays this team from a Montreal college that we coordinate with every year for charity.”
It is “next to impossible” for new Tuck students not to become aware of the Tuck Hockey Club, Rodriguez said. During the second week of classes each Fall term, the Tripod Hockey information session is attended by approximately 150 students and fills an entire Tuck classroom, he said. The session is followed by two nights of try-outs and a “draft party” in which students find out which Tripod team they will play on, Rodriguez said.
“It’s almost like cult status at Tuck — people get crazy about this stuff,” he said.
The A and B Teams compete in a tournament at Harvard University, and Tripod players compete with other business school teams for the Cheesesteak Chalice at the Wharton School’s Cheesesteak Tournament.
During the Valentine’s Day Massacre, a men and women’s team made up of people who are married or dating compete against each other, Rodriguez said.
“Referees dress up — it’s a funny spectacle,” he said.
Tuck’s hockey program not only provides its students a fun activity and source of exercise, but also allows students who have never played hockey the opportunity to try something new. Participating in the Tripod League also gives students an outlet for competitveness.
“It’s great to have something at which we can all compete,” Chuck Culp Tu’13, another Tripod commissioner, said. “And the playing field’s pretty level. No one’s that great at hockey.”
Playing hockey also allows Tuck partners to meet other students and provides a stronger bond between first and second-year students, according to Annie Garrigus Tu’12, a former Tripod captain.
“It gives us a great topic to talk about outside of all of our schoolwork and study groups,” she said.
Perhaps most importantly, students meet new friends and can use these new friendships for career networking.
“Most of the teams have these big parties for just their teams to get to know each other,” Rodriguez said.
Although many students have never played hockey prior to joining the league, some students have related experience.
“I played street hockey for three years in college and one of the reasons why I decided to go to Tuck in the first place is because of how big hockey is there,” Rodriguez said. “I’m a huge hockey nut.”
Many students decide to start playing once they realize how ubiquitous participation is among students, Rodriguez said.
“People go to buy used equipment from 10 years ago and no matter what it smells like, they strap it on to get on the ice,” he said. “A lot of people would do anything to play hockey there.”
However, hockey mania is not restricted to nighttime, according to Culp.
“People will talk about Tripod games way more than they should,” Culp said. “You’re walking around the hallways and hearing people talk about it as if it’s game seven of the World Series.”
Although other business schools have hockey programs, Hanover’s remote location contributes to the popularity of Tuck’s program.
“Nobody really shows up with a life outside Tuck before Dartmouth because so few people have lived in the Upper Valley before,” Culp said. “Because people aren’t really plugged in to a community outside of the school community when they arrive, any activity attracts a lot of people.”
Tuck alumni also retain a special connection to the sport, according to Rodriguez. During an internship at a consulting firm, a Tuck alumnus who was a partner at the firm reminisced with Rodriguez about his own days playing hockey.
“It’s our last shot to live out our dreams of being NHL superstars,” Rodriguez said.