Local hockey player has had memorable experiences playing for Division I program

By: Mark Vest | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published October 16, 2013

For somebody who is still only a junior in college, Travis White has already had his share of interesting experiences.

After playing travel hockey while attending Utica Ford II High School, White, whose hometown is Sterling Heights, went off to St. Louis, Mo., to play junior hockey, where he played for one year before moving on to to a team in Traverse City for another three.

Following his stint at the junior hockey level, White joined the Ferris State University Bulldogs at the age of 21.

In his freshman season, White got the chance to do something a lot of young hockey players may only get to dream of when he was part of a Ferris squad that made it all the way to the national championship game in 2012. Although the Bulldogs lost to Boston College, it was an experience White isn’t likely to forget.

“It was awesome,” he said. “It was in Tampa, Fla. We actually had three fan buses from school (go) to the game. It was a nice (kind of) home-ice advantage. We got to go on like a private yacht that they took all the teams on — went out to dinner. It was classy.”

Playing hockey at the Division I level is an opportunity not every hockey player will get, and White has enjoyed the chance he has been given to suit up for the Bulldogs.

“We’re the only Division I sport here, so you get a little more recognition around campus,” he said. “Fans are second-to-none here. They take their hockey seriously. It’s a smaller school, too, which is nice — get to know a lot of professors (and) classmates. Athletics as a whole — you get a one-team kind of atmosphere. All the other teams go to each other’s events.”

White has gotten plenty of support from his family and from coaches who have been part of his journey, such as Brian Burke, who coached him during his travel hockey days, and Jon Cooper, who coached him at the junior hockey level and is now a National Hockey League head coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And whether it is something he picked up from coaches or simply came from his own observations, White has learned a lesson that may be able to help him both on and off the ice as he moves forward with his life.

“Working smart more than working hard,” he said. “Some guys think, ‘I’m working hard — I’m (hitting) the gym every day.’ But you’re not doing the right stuff to get better at the gym. Same thing on the ice — you might be working hard, but taking yourself out of play by not working smart. Even in a job, you might be working hard, but you might be working hard in the wrong areas.”

While White does have some unfinished business at attend to while at Ferris State, including graduating on time and trying to help the Bulldogs achieve more success on the ice, he has also given some thought to life after college.

“Professionals is a goal,” he said. “Finish my four years here and see what options I have. It’s every college player’s dream to play professional hockey. Play your best, and hopefully, some day somebody notices you.” 

White is majoring in business administration with a minor in sports communication.