Renegades on ice: Columbia gets a hockey team


Kaitlin Hetterscheidt

Team captains Daniel Olesen (left), Asher Kline (center) and Morgan Braastad (right) will take the ice for the first time Dec. 7 when the COHL season kicks off.

By Assistant Sports & Health Editor

For the first time in Columbia’s history, the college will see a Renegades ice hockey team debut later this semester. 

The team will play its first competitive game Dec. 7 at the B-Level for advanced players in the Chicago Outdoor Hockey League, an 18-and-older adult league that competes  at outdoor rinks throughout Chicago and the suburbs.

The team is led by captains Asher Kline, Morgan Braastad and Daniel Olesen, all of whom have 10-plus years of hockey experience. Braastad, a freshman business & entrepreneurship major and sole female captain of the team, said she is excited to get out and compete with the guys. 

“I like playing with guys—I’ve never played on an all-girls team,” Braastad said. “I think guys are more challenging [for me] and I like the unexpected. Also, I think [it is] really exciting.”

Kline, a freshman cinema art + science major, said he is happy to have Braastad on the roster and to be part of a co-ed hockey team.

“I was very surprised because normally we don’t have girls [playing hockey],” Kline said. “It is great just to have a girl captain on the team. It makes other girls want to come out and play a lot more.” 

Braastad also said she thinks her participation may encourage more girls to take the ice. 

“I know a few other girls who are interested in playing who are going to work on their skating this year,” Braastad said. “I think next year the team is going to be a lot bigger than it is this year.”

After holding an interest meeting Oct. 21, the Renegades faced an uphill battle to put the team together. Not only did they face challenges with funding, as reported Oct. 6 by The Chronicle, but they also had just two weeks to turn interested candidates into a competitive squad to make the registration deadline for the COHL season. 

Olesen, a junior audio arts & acoustics major who has been skating since he was 4 years old, said he is happy to be on the team after a period of doubt that the team would ever be put together.

“I’m excited that we got it off the ground,” Olesen said. “When we were faced with all the stuff to do with [the] Renegades, it looked kind of like we weren’t going to have the commitment from people. Everybody stepped up to the plate when it came time to get all the paperwork in and make sure that we [could] actually play under the Columbia Renegades logo.”

While the team has yet to hold its first practice or skate together, Kline was confident about its playoff prospects this year, noting that the rules of the league are very friendly to all of its teams.

“Everyone makes the playoffs [in the COHL],” Kline said. “How many wins or losses you have just determines where you stand in the league .”

The COHL season features nine regular season games followed by playoffs and runs from December through March. Although hockey is traditionally played indoors—the NHL and other leagues, both amateur and professional, hold a handful of games outdoors each season— all of the COHL games take place outdoors, which means the team will play in some harsh conditions. However, Olesen said he is not fazed playing in those conditions.

“I grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota , [and] we have tons of outdoor rinks, so I’m used to playing in the bitter cold,” Olesen said. “I’m not too worried about it. It’s not too bad. Once you get on the ice, you just [have to] keep moving and you’ll warm up pretty quick.”

While hockey remains one of the more physical sports, the COHL is a non-check league, meaning it is illegal to check players in any fashion. Olesen said the lack of physicality will not take anything away from the games.

“I’m sure it’s still [going to] be competitive,” Olesen said. “You’ve got a bunch of people out on the [ice] and it’s hard not to have some scrappiness. I don’t think it will be too bad, [but] it’s certainly not going to be people suited up playing [Chicago] Blackhawks style—just laying people out.”

With the first game rapidly approaching, Kline said he hopes the team can hold at least one practice before  Dec. 7. However, Olesen said he is simply excited to get out there and is confident in the roster they have put together.

“I’m excited for [game one],” Olesen said. “We have a good group of kids to play. Everybody seems to have a good amount of experience [playing hockey]. We haven’t been able to skate with each other yet, but I’m sure after the first [practice] we’ll actually see that we can do something good in [the COHL].”