College Notebook: Stibitz enjoys life on the ice at MSU

For Irene Stibitz, hockey is a lifelong passion, and now she's taken that passion to the collegiate level.

"I have been playing ever since I can remember," said the 2006 Dow High graduate. "It's not like any other game. It's different than any other sport I have ever played."

Stibitz, a sophomore at Michigan State University, began playing hockey at the age of 5 and has been on the ice ever since. She's now a member of the MSU women's hockey club.

"From what I can remember, I was considering figure skating. But my dad's family is a huge hockey family and they said, 'There's no way you'll be a figure skater,'" Stibitz laughed. "I stuck with hockey and I am glad I did."

Stibitz came up through the Midland hockey programs, playing in boys' leagues until she was 12. At that time, she decided to make the switch to playing on girls' teams.

She said the switch was a personal choice, noting "I did not like the checking and I wasn't having fun. None of the boys would talk to me. It was socially motivated."

Her mini-mite coach in 1993-94, Paul Hannah, remembered Stibitz as a tough, upbeat player, even though she was young at the time.

"She was committed to playing and always very enthusiastic and energetic," he said. "She wanted to play with the guys because they were always very competitive."

That competitive spirit put Stibitz back on the ice with the Midland Northstars boys' team during her sophomore year of high school at age 16.

"I noticed the huge difference between boys' and girls' games and I wanted to challenge myself to get better," she said. "The biggest difference is that boys' games are a lot faster. You have to skate faster and think faster; it's a lot quicker game."

Stibitz said pace and physicality are the biggest differences now that she is competing at the collegiate level.

"When I first came to the women's team here, I thought, 'These girls are really fast. These girls are really good,'" Stibitz said. "But (girls) aren't allowed to check, so it's not as physical. This year, I'm getting a lot of penalties for checking. The speed in the guys' game helped me prepare for these girls, because they have so much speed."

She says another challenge at the collegiate level is the increased time committment.

"In high school, we had practice one or two times a week," she said. "Now we practice three or four times a week, plus off-ice workouts and games on weekends."

Stibitz came to MSU for scholastic reasons, but being able to continue her hockey career was another reason to become a Spartan.

"I'm a journalism major and MSU has a good journalism program," she stated. "I am not sure how (MSU coach Jeff Wilson) knew about me, but he told me to come check out the program. Telling me I could play college hockey on a really good team was a push (for attending MSU)."

When asked if she would continue playing after college, Stibitz said she just wanted to stay close to the game she loves.

"I am not sure how much opportunity there is after college," she said. "I would like to coach boys. I like the game a lot better. I want to be involved in hockey for a long time."

The club is 11-5 and will play at Robert Morris College today at 5:20 p.m.

Bowser, Carter help Hope win DeVette Holiday Classic

Midland High graduate Kelvin Carter and Dow graduate Will Bowser helped Hope College win the Russ DeVette Holiday Classic Dec. 29 and 30.

The Flying Dutchmen topped previously undefeated Mount Vernon Nazarene, Ohio 96-77 in the championship game.

Hope beat Grace Bible 97-48 in its other win.

Against Grace Bible, Carter played 12 minutes, scoring six points with one assist and two rebounds.

Bowser also saw 12 minutes of action, scoring 11 points with one board and one steal.

In the championship game with Mount Vernon, Bowser played 12 minutes with six points and three rebounds, while Carter played 11 minutes and scored two points with four assists and two steals.

The Flying Dutchmen are 9-2 and will play at Olivet Saturday at 3 p.m.

Anderson lifts Britons to victory

Gladwin's Tonya Anderson scored nine points in Albion College's 85-56 victory over Saint Mary's College Wednesday night.

Anderson played 22 minutes, coming in after starting point guard Lindsey Davis left with an injury.

She had five assists and two steals and was 4 of 5 from the free throw line.

Anderson has started nine of the Britons' 13 games. She is averaging 6.9 points per game and is third on the team with 35 assists.

Albion is 11-2 overall and will host Kalamazoo Saturday at 3 p.m.

Brown going strong for Scots

Midland High graduate Matt Brown had a team-high 10 rebounds in the Alma College men's basketball team's 64-59 loss to Kalamazoo College on Wednesday.

Brown leads the team with 60 rebounds and is second in scoring with 9.9 points per game. He is shooting 36 of 47 (77 percent) from the free throw line.

Gladwin's James Hawkins has played in five games for the Scots, with two starts. He has scored eight points with nine rebounds and two assists in 62 minutes of play.

Another Gladwin graduate, Pat Locey, has appeared in six games with three starts. He has scored 13 points with nine boards and five blocks.

The Scots (0-10) host Calvin College on Saturday at 3 p.m.

If you know of area athletes competing at the collegiate level, contact the Sports department at (989) 839-4238 or email us at