Out of high school, forward Nicole Schammel decided to go to Minnesota State-Mankato.
She had a tight bond with then-Mavericks head coach Eric Means. Means resigned after the 2014-15 season amid a stretch of losing seasons. After her coach left, Schammel decided to leave her school for something different.
That's when she arrived at Minnesota.
"There's a lot to be said about it, but it all comes back to tradition and who's played here before you," Schammel said. "It's really special, especially growing up in Minnesota. You idolize the Gophers, which makes it even more special."
Schammel transferred to Minnesota from Minnesota State-Mankato in 2015 and is in her second year playing for the Gophers. In 2014-15, she played 36 games for the Mavericks, scoring 11 goals and 22 points.
"[MSU-Mankato] wasn't the right fit for me," Schammel said. "I think a huge part about college is being in the right spot. For me, if I wasn't playing hockey, I'd want to go to school at the U. It worked out really well that I could be on the hockey team as well."
Schammel had a connection on the team before transferring.
Minnesota forward Caitlin Reilly has been a close friend of Schammel since Reilly was about 8. Reilly said Schammel and her have been linemates since before college.
"When your that close off the ice, it really contributes to that chemistry on the ice, which we've so far done," Reilly said. "She's smart with the puck, able to make good passes where most people wouldn't be able to find [another player]. I think she really complements my skills, and I think I'm able to complement her skills."
Head coach Brad Frost said Schammel is a mature person on the ice and in the locker room. Schammel graduated in May with a degree in business and marketing and is now in graduate school studying sports management.
"Academics are really important to her," Frost said. "Having somebody who's been through a transfer, who's sat out a year, has already graduated ... those are all great things that provide some leadership to our culture."
Reilly thinks Schammel is a calm player most of the time, but can get energetic when games are close.
"Overall, she definitely contributes a lot on the bench," Reilly said. "She's not one of the loudest, but not one of the quietest."
For Schammel, her love of hockey started at an early age.
Schammel's parents own a sporting goods store in her hometown of Red Wing, Minnesota. Hockey equipment is a major part of their business. She would play with hockey sticks while her father was at work.
She started out playing hockey at her parent's store and spending time on the ice with her older brothers. Her brothers taught her how to skate.
"Growing up, I would follow them to the rink and do whatever they did," Schammel said.
Schammel, a redshirt senior, has played in 55 games for Minnesota over two seasons. This season, she has scored nine goals and 14 points. She netted two goals in Minnesota's 4-3 win over St. Cloud State on Saturday at Ridder Arena.
Being able to have fun is what motivates Schammel to do well as a player. She said it's her biggest factor in how she plays. So far, that's been going well for Minnesota.
"Hockey is super fun. I love playing," Schammel said. "If you're having fun and working hard, you should end up doing pretty well."