Mike Graham ’17

At the age of 16, most young hockey players from the Toronto area spend the summer trying to land a position on a junior hockey team. But for Mike Graham ’17, his parents had a different idea, opting to enroll their son at Kent School in northwestern Connecticut. “My Mom and Dad were big on education and that’s kind of how I ended up at prep school.”

 Playing defense for Kent School as a senior, Mike was named team MVP and caught the eye of the Skating Saints coaching staff. Upon visiting SLU, Mike was immediately drawn to the University’s close-knit community. “As soon as I went on campus it reminded me of the Kent small-school feel, which I thought was awesome. I got a really good, homey feeling from St. Lawrence.” Another advantage for the Graham family: proximity. “I also liked that it was close to the (Canadian) border” Mike explained. “It’s only about a 4 hour drive from Toronto for my parents to come watch me play.”

A Business and sociology major with a minor in sports exercise science, Mike waxes poetic about the camaraderie and study habits of the Men’s Hockey team. “We all go to Dana (Dining Hall) right after practice by five o’clock when it opens. It’s nice to just relax there for an hour and hang out until about six when you grab your books.” Then, like many other Laurentian student-athletes, it’s off to the ODY Library for group study sessions. “We get a big room. It’s good for the team because you get everybody together, get what you need to get done, and then you have the rest of the night to just relax.”

According to Mike, the inclusive nature of the St. Lawrence learning experience was somewhat of a surprise. “I didn’t think the teachers would be so personable. Teachers are very accepting and helpful. I think that’s been the biggest shock: how much they actually do care and want you to succeed. If you ever have questions or need something, they’re always around and willing to go the extra mile.”

At the rink, the ever-changing and competitive nature of collegiate sports has forced the Men’s Ice Hockey program to adapt. “During my time here, there has been a big change in the amount of access we have to equipment and apparel, and all the little things that go so far like shampoo and razors” Mike explained. “We used to have to buy those, and now it’s taken care of. It’s the little things but guys really appreciate it.”

Having proper tools has also benefitted the program: “Getting our own custom sticks was something we didn’t have freshman year,” remembers Mike. “Now we get whatever we want. Two pairs of skates. There has been a huge upgrade in that aspect.”

Unsurprisingly, Mike has dreams of turning pro after graduating this spring. But he also has a clear plan for when the time comes to hang up the skates. “I think for the first year or two after college I’d like to at least try and play, whether it’s in Europe or North America. Go give it a shot and see what happens,” he said. As for post-hockey, “I want to be sure that I’m somewhere that I’m getting a lot of training. I think that’s big for your first job. I want to try to learn as much as possible and not just in one specific area. My dad own a sporting goods company in Oakville (Ontario), but for the first 5-8 years (after graduating) I’d like to branch out and do my own thing and learn as much as possible. Then maybe bring it back to the family business.”