The first game of the 2018-19 Quinnipiac University Bobcats Women’s Hockey season will be an exhibition game against the University of Guelph Gryphons on Sept. 22, 2018. This will be followed shortly thereafter by the Bobcats first regular season game on the road against Ohio State University. The team has been anxiously counting down to puck-drop on their social media accounts, and they are primed to get the season underway. For the Bobcats, hockey cannot return soon enough.
There are seven sophomores on this year’s squad who are now veterans. They are the ones who have a first season of NCAA play under their belts, and can help welcome the five incoming freshmen by showing them the ropes. These same sophomores will be the meat of the team for the next three years. The ones who will look to bring Quinnipiac its first national title in program history.
One of those second-year players returning to the team is West Bloomfield, Michigan native Grace Markey. The 5-foot-3 forward is the perfect example of what a strong hockey program would want and hope for from a returning sophomore player. For Markey, it is about what she can do for others and how she can better those around her.
“I like to think of myself as a team player,” she told THW as her summer was winding down. “I’ve always looked at the success of the team as being more important than mine or anyone else’s (success), or even the top goal-scorer’s, or someone who gets the most assists, or even the goalie who gets the most playing time. I like to demonstrate my selflessness and leadership, and not be overly focused on my own achievements. Don’t get me wrong – I also love to score goals once in a while and contribute to my team’s success. Hopefully this season I can actually do that more often.”
THW had a chance to speak with Markey shortly before she made the journey from Michigan to Connecticut. We talked about her studies, hockey, and even rock music. Markey is a delightful individual with a good head on her shoulders, and it transfers over to the ice.
Finding Her Way to Quinnipiac
Markey is a product of the Little Caesars Hockey programs in her native Michigan. The program itself is recognized throughout North America for being among the very best for youth hockey, and has been part of a longtime association with the Detroit Red Wings. Ilitch Holdings Inc., which also owns the Red Wings, has sponsored the Little Caesars teams and amateur hockey since 1968. As most players who continue to play hockey into college, Markey began the game at an early age.
“Well actually I started figure skating when I was about three years old. My mom told me that a couple weeks in I asked her where my stick was,” Markey laughed. “My older brother played, so I’ve just been playing hockey ever since then. My older brother was the one who really influenced me and I would always compete with him and his friends growing up. Street hockey games and anytime I could get on the ice, I was just always aspiring to be as good as him.”
Born Jan. 7, 1999, Markey will turn 20 years old in the midst of the 2018-19 season. It was during her earlier teenage years though that she first became acquainted with Quinnipiac. It would not take long for her to realize that the school in Hamden, Connecticut was where she belonged.
“The first time I ever found out about Quinnipiac I was actually at a college hockey showcase,” Markey explained. “I think it was in Toronto. I was on the ice with some college coaches during a little practice they had, and that was when I met Paul (Nemetz-Carlson). He was an assistant coach at the time, and now he’s our Director of Hockey Ops. After that I researched Quinnipiac, and I was really interested. Then after I was recruited I toured the campus with my dad and I just really fell in love with it. I fell in love with the culture that they instill in the girls, and I just felt like I fit in.”
Markey’s First NCAA Season Under Her Belt
As a freshman, Markey played all of Quinnipiac’s 36 games, scoring a goal and adding a part of assists. Like she alluded to earlier, she would like to see her goal totals increase during this coming season. That does not mean that she had a poor first season – not in the least – but there was definitely an adjustment period.
“The first season for sure was a great learning experience,” Markey stated. “The first couple games, and the first part of the season especially, I just had to adjust to the pace of the game. It’s faster than anything I’ve ever played in. I was used to being the fastest. No one before was backchecking me, lifting my stick as I was going to forecheck. So I had to make some adjustments to my game, but I think I was a fast learner. I had a good season and it was fun.”
Of the 21 skaters to see playing time with Quinnipiac during the 2017-18 season, Markey was one of only eight to play in all 36 games. She was also one of just three freshmen players to do so. On top of that, Markey did a tremendous job balancing both hockey and academics, being one of only two players on the team to earn a 4.0 in her second semester while assembling a cumulative GPA of 3.98. Her commitment level is obvious. The fact that the coaching staff believed in her enough as a first-year player to insert Markey into every game speaks volumes as to how much they value her. Markey also made certain that the lone goal she did score was one that was a difference maker, as she scored the game-winning goal in a 4-1 win over Brown University on Feb. 16, 2018.
Markey may be wanting to add more markers in the goal column this year, but by no means is that her primary focus. Speaking further to her character, Markey’s main goal for the 2018-19 season is based entirely around the team.
“We’re hosting the Frozen Four this year,” Markey said about the national championship being in Quinnipiac’s own familiar confines. “So that’s going to be huge having it here. I don’t think there’d be any better feeling than to be in the tournament, and then bring home a national title at our rink. I think that’d be the best, so that’s our goal right now.”
Plenty of Time to Figure out the Future
Quinnipiac has a professional women’s hockey team right in their own backyard. The Connecticut Whale are one of the “founding four” franchises of the NWHL. Within the New England region there is also the NWHL’s Boston Pride and the CWHL’s newly relocated Worcester Blades. With a full three years of college hockey left to play, there is certainly no rush for Markey to decide on what the next step is for her future. Naturally the thought of playing hockey beyong Quinnipiac has occurred to her, but she has also set her face like flint toward a most admirable notion.
“When they first announced (the NWHL) I thought that would be the coolest thing. But as you see your life and how it’s going to pan out, I plan to go to medical school after I graduate from undergrad. But if it happens that I end up taking a gap year between undergrad and med school, then I’d love to play a year professionally while I do whatever I need to do to get my credentials up there, up high again in med school. It’s exciting.”
So while the possibility of seeing Markey play professionally is certainly there, the concept of going onto medical school is a major undertaking, though in Markey’s case it seems very much meant to be. Both of her parents are medical doctors and have had a great influence on who she is today. As we stated, this young athlete has a good head on her shoulders. With Markey’s determination, strong work ethic and commitment level, the future indeed belongs to her.
Having good music to relax certainly helps as well.
Markey’s father Dr. Jon J. Markey MD passed away when she was 16 years old. The day that he passed on the morning of Oct. 9 2015, Markey played an evening game and earned six points by scoring four goals and two assists. A love for classic rock is something her father shared with her at an early age.
“He is really the reason I have such an appreciation for classic rock,” Markey shared. “He took me to a Tom Petty concert when I was only 10, and I could appreciate his music even then. He introduced me to Steve Miller, Led Zeppelin and even U2 – all of which I still love to listen to in honor of him… I love to listen to some classic rock, especially when I’m doing homework. I think I listened to the Aerosmith Greatest Hits album at least 20 times during the second semester of my freshman year in college. It’s just something that that kind of music helps me focus, which seems counter-intuitive, but it works for me. I saw Steve Miller and Peter Frampton this summer, so I was pretty excited about that. I had never seen them live, so that was really cool.”
Markey Is Wise Beyond Her Years
The focus that Markey puts toward her studies is the same that she applies to hockey. In fact, it is something she has found is applicable in all walks of life. Perhaps a part of the reason why she played all 36 games last season is because not only do her coaches see a need to utilize her hockey skills, they recognize a maturity factor and a genuine care that not all underclassmen exhibit. Call Markey wise beyond her years if you will, but she undoubtedly has a true understanding of sports, studies and life in general and how each intertwines.
“Coach B (Brijesh Patel) – our strength and conditioning coach – he pulled up this quote one time after we had a pretty rough weekend of games, and it was ‘Stay humble in your highs, and hungry in your lows’. That stuck with me because it doesn’t matter how you play – if your mood is going to fluctuate all the time, then you do not want that to be the base of your performance. That can apply to school too. You get a low mark on a test and you’re not happy with it, but you’re not going to dwell on it. You’re going to prepare for your next one and hopefully raise your grade. Same thing on the ice. If you have a bad shift, you’re not going to dwell on it. So I think that in any aspect of life that quote can mean a lot.”
Wise words shared from a wise young hockey player.