HAMDEN, CT – Division I women’s hockey player and community service coordinator. It’s not a common combination, but it is one that former Shattuck-St. Mary’s forward Mika Nervick ‘13 has fully embraced at Quinnipiac University. The following article, released by QU Sports Information, tells of the great impact Nervick has had on the Hamden community.
Mika Nervick's impact on the Quinnipiac women's ice hockey program stretches far beyond the ice.
The senior forward from Lakeville, Minnesota has played a unique role in the team's day-to-day operations in Hamden over the past four years – a role that most Division I athletes aren't expected to play.
In addition to training as a member of the team, Nervick currently serves as the Community Service Coordinator for the program.
"Through Mika's character and leadership over the last four years, she has shaped the team-first personality of our group," Quinnipiac women's ice hockey head coach Cassandra Turner said. "Her dedication and consistency to her personal values have shown everyone in our program what it means to truly care about a teammate, how rewarding it can be to give to others, and how to make others better both on the ice and in the weight room."
Specifically, Nervick spends her time off the ice and out of the classroom finding causes the team can contribute to. She then schedules events, figuring out how many student-athletes can fit the community service project into their schedule.
"I place people in roles where they're going to succeed in the community," Nervick explained. "Ultimately, we're trying to build a two-way relationship with the groups we help. We're there to support them, and hopefully they show up at our games and support us."
Led by Nervick, the Bobcats helped plan this year's Do It For Daron (DIFD) game on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016 vs. Cornell at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden. The organization promotes youth mental health and awareness, and aims at supporting people who suffer from the stigma of mental illness.
The program has also read to 2nd grade students at Shepherd Glen Elementary School, helped prepare and serve Thanksgiving meals at the local soup kitchen, and ran an ice cream truck and booth at Quinnipiac's Fresh Check Day. Before the end of the season, the team will skate with the Shoreline Sharks U-12 team.
Nervick has even started a department-wide program for Quinnipiac Athletics. Working with the administration at O.H. Platt High School in Meriden, she's begun setting up at-risk advisory groups as a platform for Quinnipiac student-athletes to interact with troubled students. 48 students have already reached out to Nervick, volunteering some time to the program during the spring.
"Her efforts in facilitating our community service efforts over the last two seasons have been outstanding, leading initiatives not only for our program but for our entire athletic department," Turner said. " We feel so fortunate to have Mika as a valuable member of our hockey team and I'm confident that she has enhanced our culture in a way that will last long after she graduates this spring."
Nervick calls the experience "a privilege," saying that it's been one of the most rewarding experiences she's had in her time at college.
"Sometimes it can be really challenging, but it's always rewarding," Nervick said. "Academics come first, but I've always made it a priority each week to sit down for a couple of hours and try to find new ways to have our program help out.
Right away, Nervick knew she'd found a way to make an impact day in and day out, regardless of her performance on the ice. Giving back to the surrounding community, she says, is a way for the team to show its appreciation for how much it has been given at Quinnipiac.
And for her, that's enough.
"I've just showed up to the rink for four years with a positive attitude, creating positive energy for the team and giving it my best every day. I'll leave here after four years feeling like I left everything on the line. I gave the program everything I could."