COLUMN: Scholar Lives Hockey Dream At BC
Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2013 01:03
It’s not everyday that a Boston College student receives a call to suit up for the men’s hockey team during a postseason run.
For sophomore physics major Ryan Polischuk, this dream became a reality one week ago.
“I’m lucky, and that’s the only way I can put it,” he said.
Polischuk, the starting goalie for BC’s club hockey team, had just finished taking an exam when he received word from his club coach that head coach Jerry York’s varsity squad had lost backup goalkeeper Brian Billett to the sidelines because of a concussion. Heading into the Hockey East quarterfinals, BC needed to add another goalie to the roster to take Billett’s place in practice.
The man York and his coaching staff pegged for the job was none other than Polischuk.
Minutes after initially hearing the news and heading out of Higgins Hall, the sophomore received a call from associate head coach Greg Brown extending an offer too good to refuse: to practice with the Eagles.
Polischuk had been in the middle of a midterm only a half-hour earlier. Now, he was on his way to meet with college hockey’s most legendary coach and his new teammates.
“The first day, I went from not knowing if they wanted to bring me up, to then practicing,” he said.
Then York gave Polischuk the news of a lifetime—a sentence he had dreamt of hearing since he first suited up in goalie pads at age six—the sophomore physics major was going to dress for the Eagles home playoff series against Vermont
“It was such a whirlwind,” Polischuk said.
Out on the ice in full uniform with York’s Eagles last Friday night, Polischuk had brought his life-long love for hockey full-circle and lived a story that could inspire even the most cynical Superfan.
Yet there’s more to Polischuk than his rise to overnight notoriety as the new goalie in town, and the fact that he’s a dedicated student taking four physics classes this semester. On top of it all, Ryan Polischuk is a Presidential Scholar.
As one of only 59 Presidential scholars at BC and 19 in the Class of 2015, Polischuk is the recipient of a full academic scholarship commemorating excellence both in and out of the classroom. To say his accomplishments embody the University motto, “Ever to Excel,” wouldn’t be an overstatement, but rather a testament to an exemplary work ethic.
Striking a balance between his passion for life on the ice and dedication to his studies has been a strength of Polischuk’s since starring as his high school team’s starting goalie and class valedictorian. The drive to honor his commitments and succeed in the process is derived from the advice of two important people in the sophomore’s life.
“My parents were always like, ‘One, make sure you love this. You’re doing it because you love it. If you do, this is your decision, but keep up with it.’”
Despite his accomplishments on the Heights, however, the defending national champions’ newest face between the pipes exudes a sense of humility that makes him and his story all the more impressive.
“I’m not the only Presidential Scholar who’s playing a varsity sport right now,” Polischuk said. “Kids are very involved, whether or not that talent is athletic or academic, but I think at BC you do find kids who have a lot of different talents.”
His own gift at hockey is a force to reckon with. Goaltending for both his high school team and club squad, the Philadelphia Junior Flyers, Polischuk seriously considered attending prep school or a Division III program to keep his passion for the game alive. Yet in the end, the allure of the opportunities he’d have at BC won out.
“Coming to BC with a scholarship wasn’t something I could turn down,” he said.
Even so, Polischuk realized the formidable competition club hockey had to offer and seized it. Now he finds himself on the brink of dressing for the Hockey East semifinals against archrival Boston University as the Eagles push deeper into their playoff run. Nevertheless, the physics guru turned Division I hockey goalie maintains a characteristically levelheaded attitude.
“I just want to help the guys out,” he said of his role on York’s squad, “and [my teammates] were great at making me feel like I’m part of the team already … I’m kind of taking it one day at a time.”
Donning the maroon and gold for BC’s athletics program does not imply less physics problem sets or a reprieve from representing the best and brightest on campus. Division I hockey has added another commitment to Polischuk’s rigorous everyday schedule. Yet whether on the ice or in the midst of everyday life, Polischuk believes that the root to every triumph is a positive attitude.
“Here it’s a whole other step up,” he said, “but it’s the thing where if you want to do it, you’ll find a way.”