How do you go from cleaning bleachers, to being a team manager, to having your own spot on the roster of one of the best women’s hockey teams in the entire country?
Just ask Mercyhurst College Senior Ashley Harper, former team manager until the end of last season when she was offered the spot of goaltender.
Harper attended Culver Military Academy in Indiana for high school where she participated in three varsity sports, soccer, rowing and hockey.
Hockey is one of the things that helped lead her to Mercyhurst.
Although being closer to home (Butler) was also a motivator, having a Division I hockey program did not hurt when it came to selling Mercyhurst to Harper.
“Even though I wasn’t going to be playing, I still wanted to be around the game,” Harper said.
Harper got a job at the rink her freshman year.
She was approached by assistant coach Paul Colontino, who offered her an administrative position with the team.
“Though I love mopping bleachers, doing work for the team was definitely a better deal,” Harper said.
She enjoyed her new position, until the end of last season when one of the goaltenders transferred to another school, leaving an open spot.
She had been playing hockey locally since coming to Mercyhurst, when Coach Michael Sisti offered her the position for her senior year, she said yes.
Being an athlete is an extremely demanding role to have along with being a student.
Harper is not only a student-athlete but also a Resident assistant, as well as a spinning instructor.
“The absolute best part has to be the team. We really are a family, through thick and thin, and it’s awesome having 22 other sisters on campus,” Harper said.
“The team was all so happy for her when she was announced as our new goalie. She is a hard worker and was a big part of our team as a manager, and now that she is on the team she is a huge part of the team”, junior defenseman Anna Johnson said.
Harper may have reached the team in a less than conventional way but she continues to work that much harder in the gym and on the ice everyday because of it.
“Every single day, I need to earn my spot,” Harper said.