RC Athlete Zarzycki Learns Through Hardship

Q&A with Rochester College student athlete Jacob Zarzycki

by Trevor Harnden
Shield Staff

Jacob Zarzycki is a business management major from Clinton Township, Michigan. He is a forward for the RC hockey team.

Q: How do you manage your time and practice?

A: "It’s pretty easy because hockey is at night, so I never have to worry about scheduling school and hockey. School is during the day and hockey is at night. The hardest part for me is going to the gym, because after classes I get tired and don’t want to go to the gym. I have to either have to do it before class or before hockey and hit that gap in between."

Q: How does work fit in your schedule with all that?

A: "I don’t really work as much as some people, because I’m not the brightest lightbulb in the shed, so I need that extra time to work on school. So I don’t spend that extra time at work. I would like to but school is my work, hockey is my work, the gym is my work."

Q: How did you get involved with playing in High School?

A: "Well I started when I was 3, so when I got to high school I wanted to play. I didn’t play for my high school team because I played for a travel team. High school (hockey) in Michigan isn’t as big as it is in other states."

Q: Did you play any other sports in high school?

A: "I played roller hockey, and we won a state championship. We placed second in the states my final year. It was a lot of fun."

Q: How is roller hockey different from ice hockey, besides the ice?

A: "The biggest one is you can’t stop, lighter puck, and handling and shooting the puck is a lot different too. The majority of the motions and stuff like that are the same though."

Q: How do you feel before a big game?

A: "Excited and confident ready to go. Big games are the best games. They are the most fun. When it comes down to a big game, your adrenaline is pumping the night before."

Q: How do you feel different when it’s just a league game?

A: "You think about that big game all week, when it comes to maybe just a game at home, I’m still thinking about the big game coming up. It’s just not that win or die situation."

Q: What’s the team chemistry like?

A: "It’s good. We’re a steam engine. We like to call it that because 211 you’re at like slow boil, and 212 things are starting to heat up and get that engine going."    

Q: Has it always been good, or has it changed over the years?

A: "I wouldn’t say it was always good. My first couple of years were rough. The team was new, and it wasn’t as serious.  Some guys were more focused on school than they were hockey, where as me I was more focused on hockey then I was school. I had to mend with guys who didn’t have the same focus as me."

Q: What made you want to start hockey?

A: "My dad put skates on me."

Q: What drove you to continue to play hockey?

A: "It’s a sanctuary. You can go there even though you’re stressed out, and life's a little crazy. You can go to the rink and just let it all go.  You get on the ice and take a deep breath of fresh cold air and just feel relaxed."

Q: How did you overcome adversity from high school into college?

A: "It’s weird because you get thrown into a whole new situation, a new environment and a new team. People doubting you. When you meet new people, they don’t know where you came from, or what you did, so you kind of have to prove yourself again. You proved yourself before so you might not think you have to prove yourself again."

Q: How did you overcome that?

A: "Work harder, get stronger, and you just gotta keep getting better."

Q: What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had to overcome?

A: "Balancing your emotions, with everyone else's emotions, the game emotions and the fan’s emotions."

Q: Tell me an embarrassing story.

A: "(laughs) Do you really want to know? I was in triple overtime in districts, when I was 10 or 11, and I had to pee. Well we were in triple overtime. I didn’t  want to miss anything, so I went right in my jock.

This one's worse. I was at practice with my brother and he was like, 'C’mon. One more one on on,' and I told him I have to go to the bathroom.  Well he hits me up against the boards, and a little bit came out. I don’t know how to say it, I kind of pooped myself. My buddy actually got me diapers as a present the next birthday."

Q: Do you learn more from winning or losing?

A: "Losing. I played on a lot of winning teams. I won two state championships- one in roller hockey, one in ice hockey. I went to nationals twice through juniors, and played for the number A team in Canada, so you get so used to winning. You don’t know how to lose or react to losing. When you’re so used to winning and you lose, it really hits you in the face. You learn more from losing, and how to answer, how to get back to winning.  You need to lose to keep going forward to learn more, about how to win better and how to win more, and you also learn the process of how not to lose."