Most every year I make a post welcoming the Seawolf rookies to Anchorage and give them advice on things to do and things to not do. This is that post.
Dear Seawolf Freshmen,
Welcome young men. You are coming (or have come) to Anchorage, Alaska at a pretty nice time weather-wise and that looks to be a continuing trend. 3 of the last 4 summers here have been the warmest summers on record. I know the last 2 winters have been really mild as well without the usual 60 or 80 or 100 inches of snow. I rode my bike everyday last winter; there were few brutally cold days and I think the most snow we got in a day was 8 inches or so. Saying, "Yay, Global Warming" to anyone up here will get you a high-five. You're gonna like the weather.
Anchorage is 30 minutes from Alaska. If you go out into Alaska ... know what's up first. Don't go do fun stuff in Alaska without being prepared. There's lots of things out there that maim and even kill people who aren't prepared. Glaciers, mud, rivers, lakes, oceans, rocks and of course bears and moose. So ask people that know, take an outdoor survival class or stay the hell away from Alaska. We need you on the ice. But seriously, go do fun stuff. Hopefully, you're here for four years and if you don't go to Alaska you'll only regret it. See as much of it as you can.
Anchorage is a "big" little city. Because living here is almost exactly like living on an island the city has everything a larger city would have. Opera, symphony, plays, concerts, theaters, malls etc. But there's no freaking Red Lobster ok? Deal with it. You'll have to go to Applebees or Fridays or whatever other national chain food restaurants that weird people go to for food. There's a crapload of places to eat in Anchorage (that aren't stupid national chains) serving a wide variety of authentic fare that you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere other than a major metropolis. The cuisine of the entire Pacific-Rim is available to you here and you'll have a choice of places no matter your preferences.
The Anchorage trail system is pretty cool. There's something like 120 miles of paved bike trails (multi-use) that go through some pretty areas of town. The Coastal Trail runs from Downtown to Kincaid Park all along the coast. You can get to any trail system in Anchorage from right on campus. There's maps. Find them and go walking, jogging or biking and see the town. There are bears ... brown ones and black ones ... in certain areas of town at certain times of year. One kind will prolly only mess you up ... the other kind might eat you. You'll want to know the difference. If you get to a trailhead and there's a sign warning of bears ... you'll probably be best served to go a different way.
There's absolutely zero nightlife to concern yourselves with in Anchorage. Every bar is full of burly bikers looking to start a fight and ugly mean women who want to infect you with STDs. No cute girls go to any bars in Anchorage. Alaska law allows bar owners to water down their bottles of booze. So you're just going to get ripped off, beaten up and end up needing some antibiotics if you ignore my advice.
Marijuana is legal in Alaska (sort of). But we don't have to mention that because you already know the evil demon weed isn't to be messed with. Also, NCAA drug testing.
You're joining a team on the rise. The coach, us fans and your teammates all hope you contribute to that rise during your career. I hope you have it in your mind to win a national championship before the end of your career. And then I double hope that you're the kind of player who's determination will make something like that possible.
It's likely going to take a bit of time for you to adapt to the speed of the play. Not every one of you is going to play every game this year. If you're sitting in the stands for a game there's a lot you can learn by watching the game with intent. Take advantage of that. Coach Thomas is determined to build this program to the highest possible success. The harder you work in practice and the gym ... the better prepared you'll be when you are on the game roster. And then it's up to you to help make positive plays on the ice.
Contribute and you'll keep playing. You'll be on equal ground with the veterans in that regard. Some of them are going to be in the seats watching the game too.
We fans look forward to seeing what you bring. The Sullivan crowd in recent past seasons hasn't been full but the crowd watching you knows the game. I'm not the only 30+ year fan in the Sully for every series. We expect your honest best effort every shift of every game because if you're not giving that then there's plenty of guys in the stands who will. Do something positive and you'll hear us.
We don't like UAF. Me and you. Do we? We really don't. Not at all. Much dislike bordering on out-right hate. Our rivalry with them is well recognized as one of the most intense/best rivalries in college hockey. So you already don't like them. This isn't advice. Also, beat the snot out of them every time.
Good luck this season and throughout your career here at UAA.