By Matthew Dunn, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Over 200 miles away from her hometown of Northborough, Saint Michael's college sophomore, neuroscience major, and Women's Ice Hockey team member Elena Avradopoulos (Northboro, Mass./Algonquin Regional) is quietly working to accomplish her goals both on and off the ice.
Tucked gently near the shore of Lake Champlain and the city of Burlington, Saint Michael's college in Colchester, Vt. prides itself on offering its students a close-knit community of learners as well as opportunities to further athletic careers.
"I love playing for and studying at St. Mike's. I chose to come here because the school is known for having a great science department, the people are caring and genuine, and I had been offered a spot on the hockey team," Avradopoulos explained, enthusiastically recalling her decision to attend Saint Michael's. "The people at St. Mike's are incredible. Everyone is so friendly and genuine, and that isn't always easy to find. I have the most amazing friends and teammates here and an endless amount of support."
According to Josh Kessler, an alumnus of Saint Michael's and current athletic communications director, "Saint Michael's has about 2,000 students [enrolled] and 21 varsity sports that compete at the NCAA Division II level."
For Avradopoulos, being able to play hockey at the collegiate level is a dream come true.
"I didn't start playing hockey until I was ten, which is pretty late. I remember being infatuated with skating when I was young, so I wanted to play a sport that where I could do just that. I'm the first person in my family to play hockey, so everyone was pretty shocked that I decided to pick it up."
Avradopoulos also credits her Northborough roots and experience at Algonquin Regional High School for getting her started in competitive hockey, as well as motivating her to reach her goals.
"Algonquin was where I really began to discover my passion for playing hockey. Whenever I faced adversity, I was determined to face it head on. I definitely learned the importance of working hard to achieve my goals, which was crucial considering I'm not naturally super-athletic. My club coach, Kevin Lane, has also definitely played a huge role in helping me fulfill my dream of playing hockey at the collegiate level. He has always been a great teacher and mentor."
As a rising neuroscience undergraduate, Avradopoulos has plans after college both on and off the ice.
"My biggest goal is to attend medical school after I graduate and become a psychiatrist. I'll also definitely continue to be a part of the hockey community in some way, whether it be coaching or playing recreationally."
She appreciates her parents Dan Avradopoulos and Helen Koroniades for supporting her during a long snowy hockey season in the northwest corner of Vermont, noting "My parents are big supporters and come to every game they can."
However, despite the support she receives, Avradopoulos recognizes the challenges that come with being a student-athlete.
"It's definitely not easy considering I am studying such a tough major and minor (Neuroscience and Chemistry, respectively). Even though it's tough, I absolutely love what I'm studying and the sport I'm playing, so it's totally worth it."
Well on her way to accomplishing the goals she has set for herself, she offers some advice to future prospective college-athletes.
"Grades are, and always be, the most important factor when it comes to applying to college. Playing a college sport is also a lot of work. You really have to love the game and be motivated to work hard in class, on the ice and in the gym. I truly encourage any young student-athlete with hopes of playing in college to go for it as long as they're willing to put in the work required to succeed academically and athletically."