Feeling at home

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Feeling at home

Student athlete Dorottya ‘Dorci’ Medgyes, a native of Hungary, thought her recruiting letter to play hockey at UND was too good to be true; she soon found out it was totally legit

You’d sure never know it to see her: a small, outgoing blonde Hungarian with a merry disposition. But when she grabs the stick and straps on the hockey skates — look out!

Dorottya Medgyes is a freshman forward on the UND women’s hockey squad, recruited by Peter Elander — associate head coach of the team — while she was in high-performance hockey camp after high school. She now plays defense with lightning acceleration.

There’s lots more to Medgyes than sharp “go-get-‘em” and a swift stick.

“I enjoy studying, and I know it’s important for me to keep my grades up for my scholarship,” says Medgyes, who’s majoring in business and thinking about adding marketing to her academic mix.

With the boys

Medgyes — who also goes by the nickname “Dorci” — learned the game playing exclusively on boys’ teams in Hungary.

“My dad took me out to learn to skate when I was seven,” said Medgyes. “I picked it up quickly and the girl who helped me learn suggested that I try out for figure skating. So my dad took me to practice. But after 10 minutes of that, I went to my dad crying — there’s no way I wanted to figure skate. He bought me a sandwich and we went back to the ice where a boys’ team was playing. I told him that’s what I wanted to do, so he asked the coach, who said, ‘sure!’ and from that time until I was 20, I played on boys’ teams. When I turned 18, they let me play on the 16-year-olds team because the boys my age were much bigger and stronger — it was safer for me to play with the younger team.”

Then Medgyes got the email from the UND coach.

“At first I didn’t take it seriously — I figure it was one of those offers which I’d seen before where I’d have to pay a lot of money to go, and I’d never heard of UND nor about North Dakota,” she said. “So I showed the email to my hockey team manager and he said this is the real deal.”

“My manager told me that it was the best offer he’d seen, a great offer for a Hungarian hockey player,” Medgyes said. “The reality is in Hungary hockey isn’t a big deal. So being recruited by an American NCAA Division I team was huge! I was thrilled because it had long been my dream to go to the United States.”

From the UND perspective, it was a great move, too.

“Dorottya is a great student and very social off the ice,” said Elander, who previously coached the Swedish national women’s team. “I think that her skill will show the longer it goes because the talent is there already.”

Professors care

Medgyes says she feels fortunate to study and play here because U.S. college athletics is really positive for students.

“In Hungary, there are no college sports — in fact, they don’t tolerate or make allowances for athletes,” Medgyes said. “If you return Monday at 4 a.m. from an away game, you’re still expected to show up at 8 a.m., do all your work, take all your exams — you’ll get docked if you don’t. In addition, college there is just about getting through with a passing grade.”

Here, she says, she feels the University really cares about her academic performance.

“UND goes out of its way to work with student athletes, and if you study hard you can get an A,” said Medgyes, who learned English along the way in Hungary from the many Finnish and Swedish coaches who worked the game there. “I learned a lot of English from them, especially all the hockey words.

“Another great thing here is that if you have to miss a class because of a game, the professors will work with you — I love that!” Medgyes said, noting that she studied English and French in high school.

“To get used to the highest level of women hockey always take a bit of time together with the different lifestyle in the USA and Europe — as we have seen with our other European players,” Elander said. “They all grow both as players and people each semester they are here at UND.”

Medgyes says feeling at home so far away from her home country wasn’t as hard as she expected.

“People here are really kind and willing to talk,” she said. “So I’ve had no trouble — in fact I like going out with my teammates, socializing, getting to know them.”

Juan Miguel PedrazaUniversity & Public Affairs writer

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