Being a two-sport athlete at the NCAA Division III level while juggling a demanding class schedule is sure to pose a challenge for Alexandra Chutskoff this fall.
The 18-year-old Abbotsford native, fortunately, knows a little something about taking on challenges.
Last year, as a freshman at Finlandia University in Hancock, Mich., Chutskoff weathered a winless season with the Lions women’s hockey team.
It’s easy enough for an athlete to keep a positive attitude when things are going well, but enduring an 0-20-2 campaign posed a mental test the likes of which she’d never experienced. It’s a good thing, then, that Chutskoff buys into the notion that suffering produces character.
“Every day I had to look at it like, ‘Look where I am – I’m playing college hockey,’” she explained. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, something I’ve strived to do, and now I’m living it.
“In the moment, it’s always tough to be like, ‘Wow, we keep losing.’ But it’s something you have to work at, and it’s one season. There’s three more left in my career to play. ”
Chutskoff’s never-quit attitude in the face of adversity didn’t go unnoticed. At season’s end, the left winger was voted Finlandia’s most improved player – an award which was particularly special to her because it was voted on by her teammates.
“I put 100 per cent into everything I do – every workout, every practice, every game,” she said. “Every shift you play is a chance to get better.”
After returning to the Finlandia campus this fall, Chutskoff was kicking around a soccer ball with a couple friends when the Lions women’s soccer coach happened to wander by. He invited her to try out for the team, and she cracked the roster.
“It’s a big commitment, but I’m good at staying on top of my schoolwork,” she said. “I’m excited. It’ll help me get in shape for hockey season.”