Megan Bach understands she has an opportunity to make a difference, whether it is on the ice as a member of the Pronghorns women's hockey team, or in the classroom as a 4.0 student aspiring to medical school and a future in neurology. It's probably why she's so mindful of the people who made a difference in her life, and is so willing to give back to the community in their honour.
Bach was named the Canada West women's hockey top student-athlete following the conclusion of the 2010-2011 season. It's an award that comes as no surprise to her coach and is testament to Bach's attitude.
"Megan brings excitement and hard work to whatever she puts her mind to," says Pronghorns head coach Chandy Kaip. "She goes above and beyond her coaches' and professors' expectations as a student-athlete. She fits the mold of the ideal student-athlete."
The Champion, Alta. product is in her fourth year of studies at the
U of L, majoring in biochemistry. A fan of the sciences all through high school, Bach was keen on a future as an optometrist. That was until an introductory neuroscience class got her hooked on the brain.
"I really enjoy learning about the brain, it fascinates me," she says. "Learning about the different diseases and how damage to different parts of the brain results in different behaviours really intrigues me."
Bach came to the U of L intent on being a student first. She only decided to try and further her hockey career after she left high school and realized she still longed to play the game. In typical fashion, she won a spot with the Horns by displaying her work ethic.
"I've always been a defensive forward, I'm not much of a goal scorer but I enjoy the penalty kill, it's simple to me," she says. "The penalty kill makes sense and I just work hard to get the job done."
It sounds familiar to the approach she takes to her schoolwork, an attitude learned from her parents.
"Starting at a young age, they taught me how important school was and to have a good work ethic," says Bach. "It just became habit for me, and it turned into a case where I really enjoyed pushing myself to do the best I possibly could."
It's not always easy to excel in the classroom with the demands of playing a varsity sport chewing up your time but Bach actually finds it easier to get her schoolwork done during the busy Canada West season.
"Time management is the key, and any time I'm away from the rink, I'm doing homework and studying for exams. It's tough but I know that's what I want to do so I'm able to buckle down and focus on it," she says. "It's funny once hockey is done, I have so much more time, I need to try and change gears and manage my time differently. It can be difficult getting into a routine."
Despite the demands on her time, Bach still finds a way to lend her hand in a volunteer capacity. She's especially thankful to a power-skating coach who helped her improve her skills. Ironically, it is U of L Health Sciences professor, Dr. Claudia Steinke, who Bach now assists in running skating sessions for aspiring young players.
"She makes everyone of her students feel special and it's the little things that make a world of difference in a person's life. I can only hope to become half the person she is," says Bach. "I really looked up to her, so when she asked me to help her out with camps, I was happy to do it. It's really exciting to see the growth in girls' hockey and it's fun to get to know some of the girls through the camps that we've done. Seeing them progress and improve is really exciting and rewarding too. What's neat is they come to our games and make signs for us and cheer us on and that's always a lot of fun."
Another Horns' supporter, mathematics professor, Dr. Dennis Connolly, has also impressed upon Bach the opportunities she has before her.
"He's talked to me about doing volunteer work overseas and it's planted a seed in my head," she says. "I'd love to go over and help in whatever way I can. I like to give back to the community because it has always been there for me growing up."
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• Bach is scheduled to finish her degree in December 2012, taking extra time because of scheduling conflicts between hockey and courses that require lab work.
• Bach gives credit to her professors for building the Horns' schedule into some of the deadlines she faces for course work. She's also thankful of the Horns' coaching staff and her teammates for their support.
• Bach's family runs a grain farm near Champion. She has a younger sister (13-year-old Christie) who also plays hockey and may one day follow in her footsteps. "She's better than me, getting hat tricks all over the place, it's exciting to watch her," says Bach.
• Bach attended Vulcan County Central High School and played midget hockey in Okotoks, all the while living in Champion. It forced her to implement time-management strategies at a young age in order to excel in her studies.
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