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Union hockey #TBT: Hockey, academics kept Yackel focused

Union hockey #TBT: Hockey, academics kept Yackel focused

The combination of athletics and academics at Union was very demanding and challenging for Bryan Yac

The Union hockey program celebrates its 25th anniversary season this year. To commemorate it, I’m taking a look back at some of the players who were part of the program and have them share their memories of playing for the Dutchmen.

Bryan Yackel

YEARS PLAYED AT UNION: 1997-2001.

POSITION: Forward.

CAREER STATISTICS: 127 games, 16 goals, 20 assists for 36 points.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO COME TO UNION? I was recruited by Union assistant coach Kevin Sneddon while playing for the Chilliwack Chiefs in the British Columbia Hockey League. I visited Union in the fall of 1996, and during our trip, the players and staff were great hosts to Bryant Westerman and I. The campus had a special feel, the program was on the uptick and I was told I’d have an opportunity to play as a freshman, so the decision was an easy one.

WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF IN YOUR TIME AT UNION? The combination of athletics and academics at Union was very demanding and challenging for me, so I learned a lot about the importance of time management and focus. I was very fortunate to have tremendous support from classmates and faculty in the Civil Engineering Department as well as the support of some excellent teammates and a great coaching staff.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS: Individually, it would have to be scoring the OT winner against RPI on the road at a soldout Houston Field House during my sophomore year. My most memorable team highlights were probably road trips to the University of Omaha Nebraska freshman year, or the Mariucci Classic hosted by the Minnesota Golden Gophers senior year. We didn’t sweep either, but played really well on both trips in front of some big and energized crowds.

WHAT HE’S DOING NOW: I’ve been living in Anchorage, Alaska, since graduating in 2001 where I am currently working for the State of Alaska in Land Management. I share a great life with my wife Kat (Union 2001) and our two crazy kids Grace (8) and Liam (6). Most of my time on the ice these days is spent coaching their Mite 8U team, which has been a really rewarding and fun experience that’s got me gaining new perspective on the game.

HOW DID YOUR PLAYING CAREER INFLUENCE YOUR LIFE AFTER UNION? My time at Union was so instrumental in so many ways with the influence of so many great people. I am just trying to pay some of that forward. Reflecting on the last 25 years of the program you can certainly see a microcosm for the ups and downs life can bring. Union Hockey is a great story that I am thankful I had the opportunity to be a part of. Looking forward to the next 25 years!

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