Thursday, July 19, 2007
Student mulls professional hockey leap
By Rebecca Wyatt Thomas, OU Web Writer
|Will McMahon, a former player on OU's club hockey team, is considering playing for a professional hockey team. Photo courtesy of Will McMahon|
Five years ago, after graduating from high school, Will McMahon half-retired from hockey, a sport he played since the age of four. It’s a good thing he didn’t hang up his skates for too long. With McMahon’s help, OU’s club hockey team won numerous national championships and made the leap to Division I. When this season ended, so did McMahon’s eligibility. Again, he figured his hockey career was over, but now professional teams are calling and McMahon is thinking of taking to the ice once again.
“After high school, I had the option to go to the junior league or quit and go to school. I wanted to go to school,” McMahon said. “I wasn’t even going to play at Oakland. I didn’t know a lot about the team. I figured they just weren’t any good.”
By McMahon’s second year with the team, they really started to get competitive. After they won the first national championship, McMahon said the stands at the Onyx, where the team plays, were full for many games and even some of OU’s varsity teams were coming out to support them.
“A lot of the guys on our team wouldn’t have had the opportunity to keep playing if it hadn’t been for Oakland,” McMahon said. The team started out with very little reputation, but the desire to win. McMahon said he hears younger players in high school who want to come to Oakland simply to play hockey, which is a reputation McMahon helped to build. “We’ve definitely for a lot more respect now. We’re here to win and play really competitive hockey.”
This season, the team was moved up from Division II in the American Collegiate Hockey Association to Division I. McMahon said the teams were more difficult and he didn’t expect his team to be in the championship game at the end of the season. However, they were and McMahon figured that’s where his hockey career would end.
“A week after our season ended, a team from the UHL (United Hockey League) called and I was picked up by the Quad City Flames, a team in Illinois. They wanted me to come down and play for the rest of the season, but I had school,” McMahon said. “About a month later they called again, right before exams and asked me to play in a game in Muskegon and fill in for an injured player. I was signed to a contract that would have lasted for the rest of the playoffs, but the team was knocked out in the first round. Getting the chance to play was a big deal for me and for OU’s team.”
Now, McMahon is presented with more offers to play with other professional teams within a few different leagues.
“I think it would be a good experience to be on my own and try it out and at least I could look back and said ‘I gave it a shot,’ McMahon said. “I would like to play if everything works out.”
One thing standing in his way right now is school. McMahon is completing the necessary classes to sit for his Certified Public Accounting exam. He has one semester of classes left.
“I’m not going to jump ship on school. I’ve put in my time and I’ll have a better job eventually in accounting. It would be really fun to play hockey for a year. I can always work the rest of my life. Plus, I’d like to have the opportunity to see how far I can go in hockey,” McMahon said.
In his career with OU’s hockey team, McMahon has experienced much success. The team won the national championship in 2004, 2006 and 2007, and was the runner up in 2005. In addition, McMahon has been honored individually as the Division II National Player of the Year in 2004-06 and Division I National Player of the Year in 2007, First-Team All American in 2004-2007, 2004-06 Central Region MVP, 2004 National Championship MVP, First-Team All Tournament at the national championships in 2004 and 2006, and national scoring leader in 2006 and 2007.
Currently, McMahon is playing roller hockey to keep up on stick handling and shooting, but he said in order to be in shape to play at the professional level, he needs to get back on the ice.
McMahon has plenty of support if he decides to go the professional route, especially from the Oakland University players and Head Coach Sean Hogan, who was insistent at the end of the season that McMahon keep up with the sport he’s played since he was young.
“In some ways I feel like I have been trying to help put Oakland’s name on the map in hockey and now I do feel an obligation to try and play professionally to help get Oakland’s name out there even further,” McMahon said.