Concordia University Wisconsin student athlete Stefen Seel overcame environmental obstacles and two injuries to reach his goal of playing hockey at the collegiate level.
From remote Invermere, British Columbia, Stefen didn’t start playing competitive hockey until he was twelve years old. His teammates all started around the age of six. It’s been hard work and dedication to the game that have allowed him to reach this level in his hockey career.
“I’ve just always loved the game. I like to stay on the ice as long as possible, work on the weaker areas of my game just to become as well-rounded as possible,” Seel said.
All that work has paid off.
Earning Rookie of the Year his freshman year with 20 points in 26 games, the 6’6 Canadian was on his way to improving on that as a sophomore when he tallied 14 points in 15 games, until a separated shoulder prematurely ended his season.
“That was tough. I was starting to really feel good about my game, playing with confidence, the team was playing great and it was hard to have my season cut short like that,” Seel said. “You never want to be in the stands just watching. You just want to get on the ice and help as much as you can.”
With a summer of rehab behind him and an assistant captain letter on his jersey, Seel was ready for junior year.
After opening the first weekend of the season with two goals, and a pair of assists in the first two games, Seel’s lifelong hip problems forced him to miss the next few games. Seel underwent more rehab, but no progress was being made, so he made the decision to get an MRI.
The MRI revealed that a double hip surgery was needed.
“That was devastating. Coming off a season of rehab, to not even really get the chance to play my junior year was hard. It was a tough year emotionally,” Seel said. “It’s a double- edged sword- when the guys play great it’s hard because you want to be apart of the team success, but when they play bad it hurts even more, because you want to do anything you can to help on the ice.”
In April, Seel had surgery on his first hip. Two months later, he had the same operation on his other.
With an internship in the summer and a full course load in the school year, Seel has had to rely on 6 AM rehab sessions to improve mobility in time for the start of the season.
“I’m just trying my hardest to get back out on the ice and give myself a chance to keep playing the game I love after school,” Seel said. “More importantly, I want to be out there on the ice with the guys. We can do big things this year, and I want to share it, and be a part of it with everyone I’m on the ice, and in the [dressing] room with.”
Seel, team captain and career leader in points per game (0.88), is back on the ice for his final year with the CUW Men’s Hockey team.
Written by Connor Hogg.
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