Travis Studzinski isn’t a rookie for Ohio. Not technically, anyway.
The Springboro native was enrolled at Ohio University during Fall Semester 2014 and played on the Bobcats’ Division II team. Everything seemed like it was going according to plan.
Until it wasn’t.
“My parents said I did not do well enough (my) first semester and needed to concentrate on my studies,” Studzinski said. “So, I went to school at home and took a couple of classes a semester and worked.”
Studzinski enrolled at Sinclair Community College, where he took three to nine credit hours per semester. He worked at Kroger as a customer service manager, then at restaurant J. Alexander’s as a server.
It wasn’t all just work and school for Studzinski, however.
While he was at home, he was still involved with hockey, just in a new role. As an assistant coach at Springboro High School, Studzinski had to learn the differences being a player and being a coach. His role was to help with the defensemen and blue-line strategies.
A defenseman himself, Studzinski quickly grew comfortable within a specific niche.
Back in his playing days at Springboro High, Studzinski was one of the team’s more talented players. With talent comes confidence.
In his role as a coach, Studzinski saw the different levels of confidence among his players. He was there to pick up the players who didn’t have the highest level of confidence.
“It’s not always as easy as it looks (playing),” he said. “I liked being there for players when they’d get to the bench after they messed up and telling them it was OK.”
Studzinski learned lessons as a coach that he’s now taken with him back on the ice as a player.
When Studzinski had the opportunity to return to Ohio and play hockey again, he couldn’t refuse. But the only way for him to make the team was to try out.
Every year before its season begins, Ohio hosts a three-day open tryout to find the last ingredient to the recipe for a successful roster.
“He was just very steady,” Hogan said following the last day of tryouts. “He blocked shots. He understood the defensive side of the game. He wasn’t trying to do too much offensively, and we need some steady rock-solid defensive defensemen.”
As Studzinski eases back into life on a college campus, where academics can pile up, he has his release in Bird Arena. It’s something he plans to never take for granted.
“It’s my favorite thing in the world,“ he said. “I couldn’t think of anything else I would want to do more.”