SCHENECTADY — Emily King wasn’t sure what her future was with the Union College women’s hockey team when the senior forward and team captain spoke at a media availability prior to the Dutchwomen’s final two games of the season in February.
King had a year of eligibility remaining because of the lost 2020-21 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, Union doesn’t offer graduate programs, so the economics major’s chances of being able to play seemed slim.
When asked about her future plans, King said, “Life is short. And I don’t know, I haven’t decided.”
King’s future is now decided, and she can thank minoring in English for that.
King will major in English, along with economics, in the 2023-24 academic year, which means she can play her final season for the Dutchwomen.
Being able to play with her teammates one more season is exciting to King.
“I didn’t want to leave yet,” King said during a phone interview Monday. “I love the culture that I’ve been part of building for the last four years. I wanted to prolong growing up, I guess. But also, it’s just been a great four years, and I am really happy to be a part of the team that we’ve built thus far. I think we have more in us for next year.
“I want to be a part of it. … I can be an influential part of that. I’m just excited to have the opportunity to come back.”
Union head coach Josh Sciba is happy to have King play one more year.
“We always wanted it to happen,” Sciba said. “I think we definitely wanted ‘Kinger’ to come back for another year. It went in kind of waves a little bit. We had to work some things out from our end. We had to figure out how we could do it academically and make it feasible for her to be able to come back.
“I think we’re really, really lucky. We’re fortunate that we’re going to have our captain back for another year, which is great for our team. The fact that she’s excited to be with her teammates and be with the same team again for another year is a real positive for us.”
With King leading the way, the Dutchwomen had their best season since becoming a Division I program in 2003-04, posting an 11-22-1 record. They hit the 10-win mark after a 6-1 victory over Saint Michael’s on 6-1. At that point, the Dutchwomen were 10-9-1.
But they went into a slump after that, going 1-13-0. The Dutchwomen finished 11th in ECAC Hockey with a 4-17-1 record for 12.5 points. They missed the ECACH tournament in the final season where eight of the 12 teams made the postseason. Beginning this season, all 12 teams will make the tournament.
Just because the Dutchwomen are guaranteed to play in a postseason game for the first time in program history doesn’t mean they will relax during the season.
“We already started talking about this year,” King said. “We are going to do these little milestone checkups. I think we’re going to do like a puck [collection]. We’ll put it on an awards shelf as we keep meeting these little goals. I think that if we stay on track with what our plan is, we’re going to put ourselves in a really good position for the playoffs.
“Though it’s an automatic bid, we still have that fire. We don’t want to settle just for that last place. We want to be the top team. I think we can, I know we can. I think we have the right people. I think that just with the mindset and the passion that we all have for the game. We don’t want to be in last place, we want to win every game.”