Finding My Home

Hear from hockey all-star Maureen Murphy about her experience transferring schools and finding her place at Northeastern.

By Maureen Murphy

Northeastern wasn’t supposed to be my home. It wasn’t supposed to be the institution listed on my undergraduate degree, the logo on my athletic backpack, or the reason behind the black and red apparel I so frequently wear. And yet, it is.

I began my collegiate athletic career with the Providence College Friars. At this small school known for their intensive liberal arts program, I immersed myself in classes from philosophy to logic to health policy. While there, I was very fortunate to be playing Division I hockey with a competitive program. It was the highest level of hockey I had ever dreamed of playing.

Like most freshmen, I struggled my first year. It was hard for me to meet friends outside of the rink, balance school and athletics, and embrace my role within a new team. As I went into my sophomore and even junior year, I continued to feel this struggle. It was not for the lack of great people and staff within the institution or the academic challenges that I so often craved and received. I thought that everyone felt this way about college; the infamous quote “the best four years of your life” seemed like a cliché masked by all the partying and drunken nights so frequently indulged by college students. While I tried to accept this, I struggled internally. I became irritable, exhausted, frustrated, and even sad.

It came to the point where I decided to quit the thing that brought me the most joy in life—hockey—and go home. I finished my classes and took off the rest of the athletic year. My friends were confused; they had no idea how much I was struggling. Hockey was my entire personality. I was going to miss out on a lot of things, but I didn’t care. I missed out on trying out for the national team with my best friends. I missed out on spending time with people I had grown close with on my team at school. Most importantly, I missed out on the positive moments that present themselves in everyday life.

After little internal debate and a lot of work on my mental health, I decided to transfer to Northeastern for the following year. While the nationally ranked hockey program was certainly a benefit, it was more about the fantastic people, staff, and academic institution I had heard about from one of my high school best friends (Aerin Frankel, ever heard of her?). Since I was transferring within the league, I wouldn’t be able to play my first year. Though this would certainly be hard, I was more concerned about staying healthy, meeting new people, and immersing myself in experiences at my new school.

To say that my first year at Northeastern exceeded my expectations would be an understatement. For once, I did not experience immense dread going back to campus or become emotional before leaving home the last night of summer. Even outside of the arena, opportunities for students and athletes in Boston are indescribable. If I could give anyone going through the recruiting process a piece of advice, it would be to prioritize your mental health and go to an institution where you can be a student without being an athlete. I couldn’t do that at PC, and it took me a while to realize that. 

While I certainly have occasional moments of crisis over the inevitable end of my college career, I could not be more ecstatic to begin the upcoming season. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that this ecstasy would not be possible without the work of past and present coaches, staff, and players.

As for this upcoming year, it is no secret that we have a significant number of new freshmen and transfers. I am certain I speak for all of the captains when I say we are excited to see new faces play with the husky logo and see old faces play different roles on this year’s team. However, the biggest part of our culture is the emphasis on person first, rather than player. While everyone in this group is a great player, they are awesome people too. It is a testament to the staff’s recruiting and previous leadership’s emphasis on culture that has allowed us to get to this point.

As one of the captains this year, I am looking forward to furthering the development of our team culture. As someone who took medical leave from sport, this goal holds a special place in my heart. While things certainly won’t be perfect, I am confident with the staff and people we have this year to achieve this goal. As a group, we have a plethora of goals: winning the Beanpot, Hockey East Regular Season, Hockey East Championship, NCAA Championship… And yet, if we focus on those goals too much, we forget to be where our feet are and enjoy the present.

I am not proud of who I was those first two-ish years of my collegiate athletic career. I was not a good teammate, a good friend, or a good person. Thank you to Providence College and my fellow Friars for forcing me to grow and mature into the person I am today. Thank you to Northeastern for the opportunities that you present your students outside of the athletic sphere. To the past and present coaches, players, and staff within the women’s ice hockey program: Thank you for everything.

For once, I am home.