In today’s blog I want to spend some time clearing up the question of inter-league transfers. Specifically, I want to answer the question “what happens to my eligibility if I start competing at a NCAA school, and then decide to transfer to the CIS, how does this work?”
In November 2013, the CIS changed their transfer rule to make it easier for Canadian citizens to return to the CIS to play. Prior to this time, all returning athletes were assessed a one year penalty upon transferring to a Canadian institution. Now, any CITIZEN wishing to return to Canada to play may do so and be eligible to participate immediately provided they meet a couple standards (you can read about those standards HERE and if you have any questions, ask them in the comments below!)
Transferring is something that happens more than you might think, and often for a wide variety of reasons. Some are unhappy with their initial choice, don’t fit in well with the team or coaching style, or get homesick (!) and some, like University of Calgary Dino’s Goalkeeper Alicia (Beckett) Frisch graduate early but still want to play out their eligibility while earning their graduate degrees!
This week, between course work, traveling to Vancouver to play UBC and winning the Canada West Player of The Year honour!, Beckett agreed to answer some questions for us. Read our interview below!
Access Sport: What kind of hockey did you play in high school, and what was your initial recruiting experience like? Did you know you wanted to play in the NCAA?
Beckett Frisch: In high school, I played for my school teams, club, as well as provincially, for both indoor and outdoor. I didn’t know I wanted to pursue field hockey at all until grade 11 or even grade 12. It was a sport I played in the ice hockey off-season that I happened to be good at. Going into my grade 12 year, my mom asked me to choose one or the other, I chose to stick with field hockey and see what happened. I didn’t really know that the NCAA was an option, and what I really wanted to do was play and study in the UK.
I think my recruiting experience was very atypical, fast, and quite lucky. I was 19, had completed one semester of university at UofC, and was in the middle of a year off. The assistant coach at the time at UMaine was from Calgary, and she knew me, and the head coach had seen me play at events while watching other recruits. They had a goalie quit mid season the year before, needed a second goalie and talked to me about the opportunity during the summer of 2009. I did my official visit as a formality October of the same year, and started school January 2010 in preparation for the 2010 season.
AS: How was your experience at Maine? What did you expect and not expect about playing in the states?
BF: I really enjoyed Maine, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. I did expect the level to be higher than I had seen before, and to have to work harder than I did before, but I knew I would adjust. Most of the NCAA experience was totally unexpected. Such small things like having your gear replaced, your practice/training clothes washed for you, access to an Athletic Trainer and an Athletic Training room all the time, having an academic counsellor within athletics to ensure you’re on track to pass classes and graduate, away games in the middle of the week, team meals paid for, and so much more. There are always professors who love athletes and will do their best to understand, which was almost entirely my experience, but there were also professors that really treated athletes like any other student (which arguably should be the way it is) and were really not understanding of travel. I also came from a place that had an offseason, even if it were just a month here and there. In the NCAA, there is no offseason, and you have to be really careful to take care of yourself to not burn out physically/emotionally/mentally.
AS: How many years did you play at Maine, and why did you decide to transfer?
BF: I finished 7 semesters/3 seasons at UMaine. I’m not a typical transfer as I did actually graduate within that time. I would have loved to have played a 4th season at Maine, however due to NCAA academic clock rules (which means you have to play 4 seasons within 5 years, and I technically started my academic clock in September 2008), it was not an option.
AS: What was the process of initiating the transfer, and how did your eligibility cross the border? (ie did you need to sit a year? did you lose any years?)
BF: Again, I’m not a typical transfer, but because I only played 3 of my 4 NCAA years before I graduated, I can transfer those 3 used to CIS and still play 2. The only combination that you can’t do is 4 NCAA and 1 CIS, because once you exhaust your eligibility in one league, it is exhausted in the other. I think open communication is the key here. If you’re unhappy, or interested in other options for whatever reason, talk to your coaching staff.
AS Note: If you are currently playing in the NCAA, and are interested in finding other options you need to obtain a release from your coaching staff. Coaches from other schools will not enter into discussions with you unless you have been released from your current team. If you are transferring from NCAA to NCAA school within the same division, you will need to sit out a year. If you transfer down a division, or transfer back to the CIS (as we mentioned above) you do not need to sit a year.
AS: Why the Dinos?
BF: I chose to go to Maine for field hockey more than for school, and being that I’m now completing a master’s degree, the academic program had to be right for my future. The University of Calgary is great academically, and I was inclined to play because I wanted to be a part of the rebuild that the team is experiencing. I believe that I have something to offer the program in this transitional stage. I was also born and raised in Calgary, and became the player I am today on the UofC turf, it feels really good to be able to compete for the Dinos on the same turf that I fell in love with field hockey on.
AS: What is the biggest difference between playing in the CIS and playing in the NCAA?
BF: As a CIS athlete, you are responsible for yourself. No one holds your hand to ensure you’re taking the right classes, to make sure you’re passing throughout the term, to know that you’re going to graduate, etc. Athletes are less catered to here. Both systems have their perks.
AS: What are you studying at UofC and what did you study at Maine? and what do you hope to do after graduation?
BF: I graduated from UMaine with a B.A. in Economics, and I’m currently working toward my Master’s in Urban Planning at the UofC. I’m a little bit of a career student, so there may be another degree (Maters in Environmental Design) in my future. Either way, I want to let loose a little bit and take some time to travel the world, and eventually use the education and experiences that I’ve accumulated to find a career I’m passionate about.
AS: Any words of advice for student athletes that are just entering their recruiting journeys?
BF: I’ll try not to be too cliché, but I think these are the biggest things:
- Yourselves, every one of your teammates, and every athlete you compete against were all the best wherever you played before. Bring confidence, leave your ego, work hard, and be patient – university athletics at any level is a clean slate.
- You are more than an athlete. Choose somewhere that not only suits you athletically, but academically and personally as well.
- Your university experience will be vastly different from your non-athlete friends’, and that’s okay. Embrace it. However, don’t forget to grow as a person, and not just an athlete.
- You have 4 or 5 years to be the best that you can be at the university level. Seems like a long time, right? It isn’t. It will be over before you know it, so make the most of it.
- HAVE FUN. Never forget why you love it.
Do YOU have questions about transferring between leagues? ask them in the questions below!