Jordan Wohl, Guest Writer
I met Quest Bigelow and Colin “CK” Garner as members of a massive 11-man recruiting class that completely transformed the University of Michigan-Dearborn lacrosse program back in 2019. Over the years, the Troy and Dearborn natives have become mainstays on the Wolverines’ starting lineup and even closer friends off the field.
This fall, however, they chose to put their friendship on ice.
A new challenge arose for the duo this summer as the men’s hockey program came calling. For the first time in several years, the program faced a shortage of skaters for the upcoming season. I recently caught up with Dearborn’s two newest dual-sport athletes to check-in on the experience of playing both lacrosse and ice hockey so far:
Jordan: Alright, gentlemen. How did you start playing hockey and lacrosse?
Quest: I played youth hockey around Metro-Detroit growing up and played high school hockey for Troy United. I didn’t get any offers for college hockey, so I figured I should take another offer to become a student athlete and make the most of it. I got a few D-3 football offers, but I didn’t want to go to a smaller school, and ended up taking a lacrosse scholarship at Dearborn. Right now, I’m a midfielder for lacrosse and I play left wing in hockey.
CK: Similar to Quest - played youth hockey around Metro-Detroit and played varsity high school hockey freshman through senior year for Divine Child. During my senior year, I spoke with my coaches about whether to play junior hockey or college lacrosse. Then I tore my ACL, so I had to either take a 5th year of high school or wait out a full year before playing junior hockey. That led to eventually choosing to accept an offer from UM-Dearborn to play college lacrosse. The coaches were accepting of me working through the injury my freshman year, and I was still able to get a scholarship to play a college sport. So I jumped at the offer.
Jordan: How did you end up playing hockey at UM-Dearborn?
Quest: My mom texted me the open tryout form, and I texted CK and asked if he wanted to try it.
CK: He said the only way he would do it is if I did it with him.
Quest: …it’s been a blast.
CK: It’s been a lot of fun so far. Getting to play organized hockey after three years is definitely something I have looked forward to.
Jordan: What does your average week look like?
CK: Hockey practice from Monday to Friday from 7:30-9am. Then Lacrosse practice on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights from 8-10pm. Work in-between, classes in-between, and usually two hockey games on the weekend.
Jordan: From playing hockey growing up, what skills helped when you started playing lacrosse more?
CK: The reason why I got into lacrosse was because of hockey; the hand skills and the style of passing, fast twitch decisions, up and down transition game, the physicality translate so well from hockey. Stick skills and passing IQ have also translated well too.
Jordan: What are a few skills that you have a hard time trading between when playing the two sports consistently?
CK: Lacrosse sticks with the netting are a lot different than handling a puck with an open hockey blade. The possession of a lacrosse ball versus keeping possession of a hockey puck with a tighter amount of time and space was difficult to adjust back to.
Quest: I just lost the feel of passing and shooting.
CK: I also feel like my shifts last a lot longer in hockey than they do in lacrosse even though it is a smaller area of space and responsibility. But the amount of stamina required to stop and start skating does make a shift in hockey a lot more difficult.
Jordan: For CK - why do you play defense in lacrosse and forward in hockey?
CK: Growing up playing lacrosse, I started with a short stick playing midfield and attack, but I ended up being a lot better at defense. In hockey, I always played forward because I enjoyed playing deep in the corners and getting gritty in that way. But that hockey background and IQ made it easier to play with a longer stick in lacrosse.
Jordan: When it came to your gear selection, are there any similarities to your preferences between the two sports you play?
CK: Honestly, no not really. I wouldn’t say that the two sports affected each other with gear. To me, I looked at them completely differently actually. As a defenseman in lacrosse, I want a heavier stick because a lighter shaft will break easier when I’m checking an attackmen. But in hockey, you want the lightest stick possible.
Jordan: What do you do to prepare your body for the amount of exercise you’re doing?
Quest: Lots of water and electrolytes.
CK: Ice baths. I’ve had a set schedule with the trainers for ice baths and when I’m going in for other treatment.
Jordan: Any advice you would give to anyone trying either sport or any advice you’d give to Dearborn athletes?
Quest: You have to really love both sports.
CK: Also make sure you have a set schedule and you’re getting your work done. Make sure you get familiar with the trainers. And also, make sure you’re treating your body well. That has been the biggest thing I have learned so far because it does not always feel great. But when you are going to the trainers, drinking a lot of water, and getting your work done on time, you’re good to go.
Quest: My body hurts. Naps are key.