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Hockey star persists through injury

Tue, Dec 5th 2023 01:35 pm

By Benjamin Fey

Special to Niagara Frontier Publications

Many people dream of being able to play a sport they love at any sort of level, whether that be in high school, college, or even professionally. Everyone seems to go through those phases where they are on some sort of sports team, whether it’s the soccer team, baseball team, hockey team, then just wait until they find what they love. People who end up finding a sport they love and that sport ends up being a contact sport, they know that the risk of injury is always a possibility.

Adian Wojcieowski found this out first hand and it was almost the end of a sports love story.

Wojciechowski started playing sports at a young age, where he started out on his little league baseball team as the starting first baseman. Baseball seemed like a silver lining for him as his dad played when he was younger and it came to him naturally.

Almost like every kid when introduced to something new, they are eager to learn more about it and try to become the best they can at it. With this strive to become better comes a lot of work.

The amount of work Wojciechowski spent on playing baseball as a kid and into his early teens started to take a toll on him as he started to become burned out with the sport.

“As much as I loved baseball, I wanted to try something new going into high school,” Wojciechowski said.

This intent to try something new grew as he went into high school and he ended up joining his high school hockey team as a freshman.

Being the natural athlete that he is, and his baseball experience, Wojciechowski thought that the transition into hockey would be somewhat smooth but, as practices started, he quickly realized it was going to be more difficult then he first thought.

“I got very frustrated during my freshman year at Williamsville East High School since I thought I could pick up hockey easily since I skated as a kid,” Wojciechowski said. “I struggled to even stay on the team with how bad I was, but that didn't stop me from putting in the work.”

Wojciechowski didn’t make the starting lineup as a freshman, but he stuck with hockey going into his sophomore and junior year. He slowly found his way after a few years of work.

“After starting off slow, his natural talent really started to show,” said Williamsville East High School hockey coach Mike Torrillo. “During his junior year, I had to make him a starter.”

Wojciechowski recorded 4 goals and 12 assists his junior year and cemented himself into the starting lineup.

“He was a staple in the starting lineup,” high school teammate Glen Thompson said. “He was honestly the star of the show for our team.”

Wojciechowski started to have dreams of aspiring to play in college after his success continued into his senior year. With many universities already having signings of student athletes years before his success, his options were small and he knew this.

As the options for schools became extremely limited, he started to give up hope.

Wojciechowski entered his final half of the high school season, knowing he needed to make an unprecedented impression on college scouts to make his dream come true.

With more adrenaline and a need to play well, Wojciechowski started to play more aggressively. This caused him to find himself in more dangerous plays.

Wojciechowski, during his third game of the spring season, with his aggressive play continuing, went in for a check on an opposing player and slammed into the boards.

“I knew exactly what I did when it happened,” Wojciechowski said. “I went over to the bench and said one thing to my coach: ‘ACL.’ ”

After this collusion with the boards, Wojciechowski suffered a torn ACL and partially torn MCL.

“I felt like my dreams were over,” Wojciechowski said. “It was a difficult time for me.”

Wojciechowski entered a yearlong rehabilitation for his knee, which took over a year to get back to where he was. The rehabilitation process of an ACL injury is very time-consuming and can be very mentally tolling on athletes as the fear of another similar injury is increased.

“One thing I wasn’t going to do is let this handicap me from playing sports again,” Wojciechowski said.

After getting through his rehabilitation, Wojciechowski slowly started to think about putting back on the skates. During his senior year summer, he did just that.

Niagara University's Dwyer Arena, where Adian Wojciechowski plays club hockey.


Even though Wojciechowski wasn’t going to be able to play hockey at the Division I level, he knew there were other options out there.

Most colleges offer club sports for students, which are competitive sports that are at a lower level than the NCAA. This allows students to play the sport they love in college, even though they aren’t playing it at the highest level possible.

Wojciechowski took full advantage of these club sports by first joining the club hockey team at Niagara University.

“I am beyond proud of this kid, after all that he’s been through,” said Tim Wojciechowski, Adian’s father. “I’m just happy he still gets to play the sport he loves.”

Wojciechowski has competed with the club hockey team for three years now, but he has extended his love for sports far past just the hockey team.

“Since Wojciechowski joined the team, we’ve shown much improvement,” Niagara hockey coach Sean Casilio said. “He has made a huge impact on our offense, which is impressive since he is coming off an injury.”

Since coming to Niagara University, Wojciechowski has also played for the club baseball and flag football teams.

“After the injury, I just wanted to test my limits and see how far I could take it,” Wojciechowski said. “It was also cool to be able to play baseball again. I didn’t realize how I took advantage of being able to play sports.”

Many people have injuries in contact sports, but what makes Wojciechowski’s story different is that he not only returned to the sport he loves but he has added to his resume by playing multiple sports.

Wojciechowski is the picture-perfect example of how you never know what life will throw at you, whether it be the loss of love for a sport or even a career-ending injury. Wojciechowski has shown that, with persistence and the love for sports, there is always a way.

“One thing I always say is, ‘It’s not over until it’s over,’ ” Wojciechowski said. “After the injury, I felt I embodied this idea, and I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had after it.”


This is a Niagara University student-created piece completed as part of the course CMS 226A. For more information, contact the Niagara Frontier Publications’ managing editor.

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