In the blink of an eye

Michaela+Boyle+embraces+Molly+Singewald+after+her+shutout+against+Sacred+Heart.+Neville+Township%2C+PA+2%2F20%2F2021+%28Tyler+Gallo%29

Michaela Boyle embraces Molly Singewald after her shutout against Sacred Heart. Neville Township, PA 2/20/2021 (Tyler Gallo)

By Michaela Boyle

“We are sorry to inform you we are cutting both the men’s and women’s hockey programs.”

Those words have haunted my mind since May 26th at 1:50 pm when they were first stated to me and my teammates.

My name is Michaela Boyle and I was a member of the Women’s Hockey team at Robert Morris before the decision was made to cut the program, but before I explain the rest of this story, let me take you back in time. Just 3 months ago.

March 5th, 2021. We had done it, the buzzer sounded and we were CHA Champions. The Robert Morris University Colonials were going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017.

In a year that will go down as one of the strangest in history, we had defied all odds.

But May 26th, 2021 will forever be remembered as one of the worst days of my life.

In the blink of an eye, all our hard work was ripped away from us. Not only from the current players in the program but 15 years worth of dedication from players who left Robert Morris better than it was before they came.

I have not had the time to fully process what this all means. I was given a fifteen-minute warning before the public was notified of the choice that was going to change my entire life.

Over 24 hours later, I still sit in shock trying to wrap my head around the fact that both the men’s and women’s hockey programs were cut because of “strategic initiatives”. What is strategic about discontinuing two of the most consistently successful teams on campus?

Why. Why. Why. Why.

That’s the word that will not leave my head. Why does our success not matter? Why do our consistent academic achievements not matter? Why are you doing this to the 55 individuals who have given their hearts and souls during a global pandemic to represent your university?

For me, the Robert Morris University Women’s Hockey program will forever hold a special place in my heart. In 2019 I made the choice to transfer to RMU for an opportunity at a second chance at living my dream as a Division 1 student-athlete. To have a second chance to find a place that felt like home, a place where I could truly be the player and person I wanted to be. I was fortunate enough to find that at RMU.

Now I sit here thinking about the fact that nobody else is going to have the same feeling that I had. The feeling of being a part of a team.

A group of people that love and care about each other as a family does. People who at the end of the day will show up for you when you need it most. I feel bad that I will not be able to play one more game with a group of the most amazing women in my life.

I feel bad nobody will get the feeling of skating onto the ice with Larry Snyder behind the microphone and Bobby D with the tunes. The feeling of Justin Berl capturing the most perfect photos. The feeling of the band rocking out in the stands electrified the rink. People will not get to know the members of Colonial Sports Network, who put in countless hours of their personal time to cover and broadcast our games.

I feel bad that no other Robert Morris women’s player will know what it means to play “Colonial Hockey” and feel the pride we once had in representing RMU the best we could.

I feel bad that nobody will get to play for Coach Paul, Coach Logan, Coach Jen, Hannah, Ryan, Vinnie, and Mia. Those people cared. The coaching staff took Coach Logan’s recommendation about me as a player and trusted me to bring the things he told them I was capable of. They cared about us as players and about the university. They pushed us to be the best people and players we could be on a daily basis.

I know that every single one of the 55 athletes affected by this decision are struggling to understand, struggling to find some sort of hope, and struggling to believe that there may be a chance to save our program.

The administration and Athletic Department at Robert Morris University failed us. They allowed our dreams to be crushed.

They placed the players in nearly the worst possible place with barely two months to figure out what was next, and that’s not even including the fact that the coaching staff and support staff are left jobless.

For some players, this may be the end of their hockey careers and if that is the case, they have been left without a chance to say goodbye to the game that they dedicated their entire lives to up to this point.

No words will really ever be able to describe the emotions felt due to this decision. But what I can say is that I believe in every member of both the women’s and men’s hockey teams. I know that we will not give up fighting for our programs. I know we have the support of so many people from Robert Morris both current and former students, our fellow student-athletes, hockey alumni, the hockey community and so many more.

I’ve said this once and I will say it again, Robert Morris University, we deserve better.