Sidney Peters, goaltender for the championship U of M Gopher women’s hockey team, will graduate this spring with her B.S. in Kinesiology. The Gophers were defeated by Wisconsin this season in the NCAA finals, but Peters was named the WCHA Final Faceoff’s Most Outstanding Player in her final game with the team. On April 6, Peters was presented with the 2018 Hockey Humanitarian Award, presented annually to college hockey’s finest citizen. On the same day, she found out she’d been accepted to medical school. Outstanding student, athlete, and dedicated volunteer, Peters is a role model for students in so many ways.
I grew up in Geneva, Illinois, although my family now lives in Minnetrista, Minnesota. I have one brother (Jake) and two dogs (Fletcher and Brody). Up until this spring, my life has pretty much revolved around my hockey schedule, although I love to try new things. In high school, I played in two U18 World Championships for hockey–one in Helsinki, Finland and the other in Zlin, Czech Republic. I also spent a year playing hockey for a boarding school in Stowe, Vermont called the North American Hockey Academy. In my free time, I like to read books, work out, play guitar, and spend time outdoors. I am also a huge country music fan.
Why did you decide to attend the U of M?
I decided to attend the U of M because of the opportunities it afforded me as a student-athlete. I love that the U of M seems to have a class or club for anything you could be interested in, and the women’s hockey team has a long tradition of success. It didn’t hurt that I also love winter!
Can you describe the path that led you to Kinesiology since you started at the U?
When I first started college, I was planning on becoming a physical therapist. Over time, my plans changed and I decided that I was more interested in attending medical school and working in the military as a physician.
Kinesiology was an exciting major because it allowed me to choose between a number of classes, most of which I found very interesting. I love learning about the human body, and I am also passionate about human physical activity, so it made sense for me to study a discipline rooted in both! I have enjoyed majoring in something that is relevant to everyday life because I am constantly learning new things that I can implement on my own.
How has being an athlete influenced your college experience?
Being an athlete has had an enormous impact on my college experience. I have enjoyed the sense of community one gains as a member of the athletic department; being an athlete makes campus feel a lot smaller and more manageable. It has also been a ton of fun representing the U of M every weekend on the ice with one of the top hockey teams in the nation. My teammates are my best friends, and I have loved traveling all around the country playing my favorite sport with them.
Although being an athlete can be extremely fun at times, I have had to learn to manage my time very wisely and to make my physical and mental health a priority, which can be incredibly difficult when faced with the stress that is inevitable as a student-athlete. There is a lot that happens behind the scenes in athletics: hours of practice, video, weightlifting, team meetings, nutrition talks, etc. It is easy to see the glamorous side of athletics when you are watching a game on a Friday night, but it is important to recognize that the student-athletes you are watching had to put in a lot of unglamorous work before they ever had a chance to see playing time in a game.
What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced as an undergraduate?
As an undergraduate student, I have had to battle through a lot of “life,” including deaths in the family, injuries, illnesses, and overwhelming exams and assignments. Being an athlete is also challenging because you are constantly bombarded with everyone else’s opinion of you. You face a lot of criticism and you have nowhere to hide. Although my undergraduate experience was incredibly difficult, I believe that every college student’s experience is difficult in its own way. College is supposed to be hard. One of my former coaches always used to say, “It’s the hard that makes it great.”
Do you have any advice for students who are thinking about entering the Kinesiology program?
Try new things! There is no shortage of things to do in college. Put yourself out there, talk to strangers, and make a fool of yourself. Stay hungry for whatever it is that drives you. Make sure to think about your future and do things in the present that will set you up to be in a good place when you graduate.
What are your goals when you graduate?
When I graduate, I am hoping to attend medical school and work in the military as a physician. [On April 6, Sidney was notified she was accepted into medical school at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, where she will serve in the Air Force.]
What do you like to do when you’re not studying or playing hockey?
I spend a lot of time volunteering! I currently volunteer with the University of Minnesota Emergency Medical Services as an EMT. I also spent some time volunteering as an EMT in Port-au-Prince, Haiti a couple of summers ago. I was recently named the 2018 Hockey Humanitarian Award recipient. This award is presented annually to “college hockey’s finest citizen” (chosen from all levels of varsity collegiate hockey, both male and female).
Can you tell me something about yourself that people might be surprised to know?
I had hip surgery last year (due to an injury from hockey). The surgery left me without any feeling in my right thigh until a month or so ago.
Listen to Sidney Peters’ own words on receiving the Hockey Humanitarian Award, her service work and what it means to her: Gopher Women’s Hockey video clip