Amidst an already crazy year of travel, quarantines and championships, Ste. Anne’s Raygan Kirk found herself in a very difficult, yet unique situation.
Having just wrapped up her second season of NCAA play with the Robert Morris University Colonials, the 20-year-old – alongside roughly 55 student-athletes and seven staff members – was handed a pink slip from RMU in late-May, indicating the discontinuation of the Colonials hockey programs (both men’s and women’s) effective immediately.
“For a team that is at the bottom of the standings, this would be a bit more understandable,” the 5-foot-8 netminder told Game On just moments after the news broke. “But we have been at the top and we are competing. It’s just so frustrating. Like just few weeks back I said goodbye to my teammates at the end of the year, but it was a ‘goodbye, I’ll see you in the fall’, not a ‘goodbye, who knows the next time I’ll see you again’, kind of thing.”
Finishing within College Hockey America’s top-three teams each of the past six seasons – including a stretch of three years as the No. 1 team through the regular season – RMU actually won the CHA championship game last season. Leading the charge? None other than Kirk, who picked up the 1-0 shutout en route to the Colonials promotion to the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
According to Kirk, the teams held a joint Zoom meeting roughly 15 minutes before RMU made a post on its social media channels highlighting the change. Both players and coaches alike were caught fully off-guard. But within the release, the Colonials announced they would honour all scholarships awarded to current student-athletes and will help “assist those who wish to transfer”.
Raygan Kirk certainly wished to transfer.
Owning a 23-6-9 record with a sparkling .931 save percentage, an even 2.00 goals against average and seven shutouts to her name, the now Junior goaltender was granted her wish with a transfer to Ohio State. She will move to Columbus and join the Buckeyes for the 2021-22 season.
“I am excited and honoured to be joining The Ohio State University this season,” Kirk told Game On. “I enjoyed my first two years at RMU and the decision the University made back in May was both heart breaking and something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. We definitely couldn’t haven’t finished off on a higher note; I am so proud of how hard that group worked during such a difficult year. We were like a group of sisters and I am going to miss the Colonial family so much.”
But in looking ahead to the coming season with OSU, Kirk says the opportunity presented checked off each of her boxes.
“I am grateful to have found a second home in an amazing program like OSU,” she added. “It is a perfect fit academically for me. I am looking forward to joining the great culture the team has created. I can’t wait to meet the team when I get to Columbus and compete towards a National Championship.”
Currently in Calgary, AB., Kirk is participating at Hockey Canada’s National Women’s Development Team Summer Camp, running from July 29 to August 9 at the Winsport Olympic Park. She was one of 43 players Canada-wide to earn an invitation to the national camp.