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Sports Roundup: Nationally Ranked Teams Ice Foes 

Piper
Piper

Spotlight on Cherie Piper '06

Students postpone college for a number of reasons. Some need to build up a cash reserve. Others just need a break from the books. Cherie Piper '06 has a unique reason. She deferred admission for one year to compete for her country in the Olympics.

Piper, who hails from Scarborough, Ontario, competed for Team Canada in the 2002 Olympics at Salt Lake City and helped the Canadian team win a gold medal. She has competed in numerous camps and festivals in Canada, and has found a way to balance two hockey schedules and demanding Ivy League coursework.

"It is very difficult to leave during the season-not only from an athletic standpoint. My biggest concern is the academic side of things because it is so easy to focus on the competition and not on the schoolwork," says Piper. "Our team is very supportive of anyone who needs to leave during the season for any reason, so the transition back is very easy."

Piper currently is competing to earn a spot on the Canadian team for the 2004 World Championships and hopes to compete in the 2006 Olympics. She played on the gold medal-winning U-18 Canadian national team in 1999.

She notes that differences exist between international and college competition. The former, she says, "is on a large ice surface, which allows for more skating and an open game. College hockey allows for more tight battles for the puck and game skills, like stick handling in small spaces."

Piper has been able to give her Big Green teammates the benefit of her experience. "The main thing I learned from the older players, besides leadership, is the small intangibles. You need to have confidence and be patient as often as possible," she says.

Piper became a force with the Big Green last season even though she missed nine games while competing with Team Canada. She finished fourth on the team, with 17 goals, and fifth, with 32 points. She earned all-tournament honors as Dartmouth won the 2003 ECAC JPMorgan Chase Championship and advanced to the Frozen Four.

This season, Piper hopes to pull a rare double by adding a national collegiate championship to her Olympic gold medal. "I don't think you can compare the two since they are different goals in themselves. Obviously, a gold medal is the highest a female athlete can achieve in hockey, but a national championship is also an experience that not many people can say they've gone through," she says.

"Here at Dartmouth, our main goal is to win a national championship, and I want to be a part of that success."

Spotlight on Brian Van Abel '04

Van Abel
Van Abel

Brian Van Abel '04 entered this season with a new role and new responsibilities as captain of the 2003-04 Dartmouth men's hockey team. "It's different now," he says. "You have to assume more leadership and realize that you are the senior that players are looking to. You miss the guys from the class above. It's different, but it's good."

Differences can also come when dealing with teammates off the ice. "You try to help the younger guys with any questions they might have," Van Abel says.

"Freshman year, I came in and did not know what to expect. Now that I'm a senior and only have one more year, I'm more confident and know what's coming."

Dartmouth made noise in the ECAC by finishing third last season. Van Abel expects this year's Big Green to perform even better.

"We have a really good group of returning players. We're young on defense and we're going to have to gain experience, but come playoff time, we're going to have a good team," he says. "Since we've been skating, I think we have the most talent in my time here. But in addition to that, everyone on this team seems to have the work ethic that would take it another step."

Van Abel has maintained an outstanding balance between working toward his on-ice game and focusing on academics. As a junior, he earned the Class of 1948 Scholar-Athlete Award and Academic All-Ivy recognition, and two years in a row was named to the ECAC All-Academic team.

"Academics was a big reason I came to Dartmouth," he says. "It was an opportunity to play Division I hockey and get an Ivy League education. It's a very high level of education and hockey."

Between playing hockey and studying, Van Abel's time during the season becomes occupied quickly. But he says getting into a routine makes it easier to split time between the ice and hitting the books. "I almost find it easier during the season. Basically we have class, practice, and then go home to do work. It's a little hard with traveling because you have to do work on the bus or when you get back Saturday night.

"But the professors are always helpful and supportive," he adds. "Our two academic advisors, Professor [Edward] Bradley and Professor [Robert] Gross, are always there to support us."

Van Abel, who is from Lino Lakes, Minn., worked at a civil engineering consulting firm at home during his two off terms. He isn't sure if that will be in his future, but he'd like to take a shot at a hockey career first.

"I'm going to wait on this year. If I have a good season, I'd love to try to play hockey professionally," he says. "I'll have to make that decision, but a lot of it will depend on this year."

- By Matt Dougherty

Scoreboard
(as of 12/02/03)

Women's Hockey

8-1, 4-0 ECAC

Men's Hockey

4-1-4, 3-0-3 ECAC

Women's Basketball

3-1, 0-0 Ivy

Men's Basketball

0-4, 0-0 Ivy

Women's Swim & Dive

2-2, 1-2 Ivy

Men's Swim & Dive

3-0, 2-0 EISL

Women's Squash

1-0, 0-0 Ivy

Men's Squash

2-0, 0-0 Ivy

Men's Tennis

2-1, 0-0 Ivy

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 5/30/08