Hartford, Conn. - From the rink to the classroom, senior women's ice hockey captain Hannah Oganeku's success is due to her relentless commitment and desire to achieve. Oganeku's long list of hockey experiences have shaped her to be the type of persevering student-athlete she is today and Oganeku has come to realize that there is no substitute for hard work. As a senior, Oganeku is making the most of her final hockey season and year at Trinity. "This year, I'm trying to just enjoy playing the game while balancing my job search and continuing to do well in school," she says.
Growing up in California, there were not a lot of ice hockey opportunities. Oganeku started with roller hockey and then progressed to ice hockey and played with boys until age 12. When Oganeku was 15, she was one of three players selected from California to attend the USA National Development Camp. After a lot of hard work and traveling for hockey, Oganeku was recruited to the Loomis Chaffee School in Connecticut. There, she enjoyed a very successful high school career in ice hockey, field hockey, and lacrosse, and was eventually drawn to Trinity because of the high-level academics.
As a double major in psychology and education, Oganeku has challenged herself in the classroom as well. Oganeku explains how she struggled to balance her academics and athletic commitments freshman and sophomore year. "Winter athletes never have an 'easier' semester and it is definitely an adjustment to be in season for both semesters," she says. Yet, Trinity's professors and Oganeku's experiences helped her learn how to manage her time efficiently. Last semester, Oganeku completed a senior project that analyzed the changing rates of student disabilities among NESCAC schools. In her free time, Oganeku works in the Ferris Athletic Center and plays the guitar and ukulele.
Oganeku started playing ice hockey when she was five years old and has been passionate about the game ever since. "I enjoy the competitiveness and the uniqueness of the sport itself," she says. "But, perhaps even more meaningful and important to me are the relationships that I have been able to build through the sport, and lessons I have learned through the relationships."
Growing up, Hannah has played for six different competitive organizations; The Lady Ducks, LA Selects, Ohio Flames, Connecticut Polar Bears, Mid Fairfield CT Stars, and Loomis Chaffee. Oganeku explains, "through these experiences I have learned a lot of valuable life lessons in hockey that I might not have had otherwise."
Elected as a senior captain this season, Oganeku fits this leadership role naturally. She strives to be a leader that is positive and supportive. Trinity Ice Hockey Head Coach Keith Maurice had this to say about her as a leader, "What has impressed me the most about Hannah is not what she has done on the ice but how she grown over the past year as a person and a leader on our team. Hannah puts the needs of others before her own and she is someone that all the kids go to for advice or just to talk." Abby Ostrom, assistant coach, added, "As coaches we rely heavily on Hannah's leadership. She is not only a leader on the ice, but she has a large impact off the ice. She takes on a motherly role, so it is very easy to talk to her, which encourages her teammates go to her in a heartbeat. The younger players look up to her and when she says something no one ever questions it."
As a player who plays both offense and defense for the Bantams, Oganeku is incredibly skilled and versatile. She has always played defense, but started to play forward for her club team in high school. Oganeku says, "I like playing both positions equally, but I think defense is harder mentally than being a forward. Coaches put me on defense because I have a good vision on the ice and act as a playmaker and they put me on offense because of my stick skills."
Oganeku's coaches rely heavily on her versatility and skill. Coach Ostrom says, "Hannah has quick edges and is really good at creating space for herself anywhere on the ice. She also definitely has the best hands in the league. Because she is a smart player and very consistent, it's easy to move her back and forth from offensive to defense. When we need someone back there we know we can rely on her, likewise, when we need more fire power up top we put her in the offense. It's not easy to switch positions, but she has owned it and never complained."
Oganeku also credits her success in hockey to the many different coaches she has had. "Because I have played for many teams, I have also played for many different coaches, which means that throughout my hockey experience I have had to learn to adapt quickly to different coaching styles, different team cultures, and accept that my role on one team might not be exactly the same on another team." says Oganeku. "These experiences prepared me for college hockey and Trinity hockey by making it easier to adapt to the needs of the program, and the needs of the team."
Both Coach Maurice and assistant Coach Ostrom have seen Oganeku grow throughout her time at Trinity."Hannah is one of the most skilled players I have had the privilege coach. When the game is on the line and we need a goal or we need to kill off a penalty, whatever the situation we were in Hannah was the leader I could count on," said Coach Maurice of his senior captain. "To coach a player like Hannah these past three years and to see her grow as a player, student and person is why I love to coach." Coach Ostrom had this to add, "Over the years Hannah has learned how to capitalize on her skills and create space for herself. In addition, she has gained a lot of confidence on the ice and also off the ice too. She knows what she is talking about when giving instruction to her teammates and owns her leadership role."
Oganeku's skill and work ethic are not lost on her teammates either. "Not only is Hannah one of the most skilled players at this level, but more importantly she's one of the hardest working players as well," says fellow senior co-captain Kelcie Finn. "She leads by example every day and has been a role model for our younger teammates both on and off the ice."
Trinity's team is very special to Oganeku who has close friendships on and off the ice. "I have lived with hockey girls every year and we lift each other up through thick and thin," she says. "Having the experience of being here over J-term with such a small team and not many other students around gives us a bonding experience that a lot of other teams don't get to experience. I think this experience brings us closer together because it allows us to get to know each other on a much deeper level."
As her 17-year ice hockey career comes to an end this winter, Oganeku looks forward to her next adventure as a coach and teacher. "I strongly believe that coaches and teachers make a big impact in shaping and molding who you are as a person. To be a mentor and part of that process is special and something I want to do in my career." Looking back at her ice hockey career, Oganeku recounts the 2014-15 NESCAC championship game against Middlebury as a highlight of her four years as a Bantam. In addition, Oganeku offers the following advice to underclassmen: "Embrace the college experience and work hard. Four years is going to go by fast so make the most of your time at Trinity."
-Written by Sarah Connors '18