06/09/2009 2:23 AM -
After playing 12 games with the Rhinos, he went home to Wisconsin, hanging up his skates and planned on going to school, but being out of hockey for 2 months, he quickly rediscovered the love for the sport he’s played since early childhood.
Jeff’s rebirth gave him a new vitality for the game.
He finished that ’07-’08 year with a Championship Ring, and came back for another year to finish out his eligibility as a Rhino.
His second year brought more adversity.
Starting his final year on fire, Jeff was amongst the leading scorers in the league and the league leader in average points per game when he took a check from behind and went shoulder first into the boards.
In what was looking to be a huge season Jeff endured what should have been a season ending shoulder injury, undergoing surgery and rehabilitation he was still able to work his way all the way back on the ice for playoffs.
It’s this work ethic and irrepressible enthusiasm that made” Schmuddy” an emotional leader on and off the ice.
He’s now signed to go play hockey for one of the most prestigious private universities in the country.
Milwaukee School of Engineering.
What schools were you looking at?
My final two choices were UW-Eau Claire and MSOE.
What made you decide on MSOE?
It was the perfect fit for me. Everything about the school is nearly exactly where I would ideally go in a perfect world. Top notch academics, a fantastic hockey program, incredible facilities all around, big city life, and the close proximity to home made it an easy decision.
Was coach Ostapina involved in your recruiting?
Coach Ostapina was at the National Tournament in Massachusetts this year, and invited me for a visit to school. He took me around campus and through the Kern Center (MSOE’s athletic center) , and I was blown away from beginning right on through the end.
What are your family’s thoughts about your signing?
They couldn’t be happier! It’s a lot easier to watch me play when I’m only 70 miles away instead of 1500!
Where do you think your biggest hurdle will be, on the ice or in the classroom?
I really can’t answer that one to be completely honest. I am just looking forward to the challenge of being a student athlete at such a prestigious school.
Do you feel you’re well suited and prepared for the college game?
Thankfully because of my teammates and coaches the last 3 years, I do feel ready for the college game. Practice and games were taken serious, and 3 extra years of maturity outside of high school definitely benefitted my mental portion of the game.
Was Coach Herman involved/helpful during the recruiting process?
Herm and Coach Ostapina are friends, and he made it very easy for me to pursue MSOE. We rarely spoke of college hockey during the season, because we were worried about the task at hand. When the season was finished, we spoke, he offered great advice, and to me it was the perfect place.
Looking back 2 years did things turn out how you had hoped?
I could sit and dwell on things here and there, but that would be looking at the glass half empty. We had two trips to nationals, and captured a Thorne Cup. Besides all of that, I’m walking away with lifelong memories and bonds with teammates who I grew to love. I missed two of Wisconsin’s worst winters in years. Yes, the last two years were a dream come true.
You had a very prolific and decorated career as a Rhino. Do you feel like you became a better player playing for Coach Herman?
Absolutely. Coach Herman gave me opportunities to succeed, and was always in my corner if things didn’t go perfect. I truly did work as hard as I could everyday for him, and he rewarded me for it. If it wasn’t for him, my abilities wouldn’t be where they are today. Coach Herman for me was a career saving coach. I was frustrated with the game of hockey, and he helped me rediscover how much I love to play. I owe more thanks to him than can be written onto paper.
What makes Coach Herman a good coach?
I haven’t had a coach I’ve respected as much as Coach Herman. He treats us like men, granted we act like men. He sets a great example for the team at all times. He runs a great practice, and we work hard every second on the ice. His patience and poise are attributes that you can’t help but be in awe of.
Looking back at your experience in El Paso, would you do it all again the same way?
Besides for never coming home with tan skin, I’d do everything the same way. I don’t believe in regrets and each experience will hopefully make me a better person in the long run.
We’d love to keep in touch with your continuing career as a player.
Do you think you will continue to keep in touch with Coach Herman and the Rhino program?
Yes, absolutely. I met some amazing people in El Paso, and I’ll hold it close to my heart forever. I’m proud to be a part of this program, and the team will only keep on growing. I’ll miss it
“Jeffrey’s the first guy on the ice at practice and the last to leave, probably the hardest working Rhino we have had. His passion and work ethic is very contagious in the locker room, he wants to be on the ice all the time, he possesses all the traits you want in a hockey player.”- Coach Cory Herman