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  • Matt Ondesko

Quick as a ‘Cat’

By Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor Photos: Geoff Schneider/Sports Union

It’s never easy making a decision on your college future. There are so many variables that go into that type of decision. It’s almost like trying to decide on what high school to attend.

At least with the high school decisions (if you go to a Catholic or Prep school) your parents pretty much make the decision for you. College, on the other hand, is all about the feeling that you have when you step on campus.

Those questions of is this the right fit? Does it have what I want to major in? Am I going to get playing time?

All factor into a decision. Add in the fact that a student-athlete is making that decision as a freshman or sophomore even makes it more difficult.

When Nichols School goaltender Ellie Simmons was making her college rounds she was looking for the right fit. The right for for her could be different than other people. She just wanted to make sure her college decision had everything that she wanted.

Simmons wanted the top-notch education to go along with a great athletic program. She got that and more when she committed to the University of Vermont. The Catamounts hockey program plays in Hockey East and had been on the rise for the past couple of season, and now Simmons (in a couple of years) will add to that tradition.

“I just fell in love with the atmosphere that Vermont has created. The campus had an amazing energy and everyone there is very kind and welcoming,” stated Simmons. “The coaches are incredible and their philosophy is impressive. From the first time I was ever on campus, I knew that  was the school I wanted to go to.”

Playing for Vermont won’t be any different that playing for Nichols School. Everyday Simmons faces some of the best young talent in the country. The Nichols rosters is dotted with future Division I, II and III pro sects.

When practice comes, Simmons knows she is facing the best there is  every single day. That type of practice and preparation can only help her as she gets ready for her college experience in a couple years.

“My team is amazing and each person brings something awesome to the table. We always come to play and challenge each other. The team has really helped me improve and they are always willing to help me work on things. Facing such skilled players pushes me to improve my quickness, reaction time, timing, and many more things,” stated Simmons. “As a team, we are really focused on improving together and playing to our full ability. We win together, lose together, and we are always learning together. We look forward to playing these great teams and can’t wait to face the next challenge together.”

Off the ice is no cake walk, either. Nichols is makes sure they challenge their students academically to get them ready for college. Sports are nice to play, but at some point that ride will end.

The question becomes what will happen when the student know longer is able to play they sport they love? How will they be able to handle themselves when all the cheering stops and they move on a real job after college?

That’s why Nichols wants to make sure their students are challenged and made to think at every level. Open discussion is normal at Nichols. Challenging the mind is important.

“I love Nichols. The academics push me and the teachers are all very supportive. I feel that Nichols will truly prepare me for college both academically and athletically,” stated Simmons. “Nichols takes a lot of pride in open classroom discussions, problem solving, and learning how to manage your time. These things encourage and challenge me to think through problems and actively engage in learning.”

Thinking through a problem is good work when you get on the ice. There are times when not everything is going to go right for Simmons on the ice. She could feel good about her game that day, but knows that all it takes is a lucky bounce here or there and the score wouldn’t be indicative on how she, or her team, played.

That's why she is always putting in the work to get better. Even the best goaltenders in the world are putting the work in everyday to hone there skills. Simmons just doesn’t want to be good, she wants to great.

In a couple of years when she steps foot on the ice at Vermont as freshman, Simmons just doesn’t want to be part of the team, she wants to help that team win. She knows she can only do that by putting in the hard work and dedicating herself to the sport she loves.

“am working on new things all of the time. The game is always changing. One thing I’ve been working a lot is the off-ice training to increase my speed. I also watch game video and look for little things I can improve in my footwork, decision making, and positioning. The goal is to make every save look easy,” stated Simmons. “I’m going to keep working hard to improve my physical conditioning in addition to my goaltending. Improvement is a constant thing and I’m excited to better myself through the next couple of years and be prepared and ready for the next exciting chapter of my life at UVM.”


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