It’s a cold December day in Western New York. As you drive into downtown Buffalo, you noticed the Christmas lights are hung and houses are decorated for the season. As you drive past the Buffalo Zoo, you come up on Nichols School.
If you have never been to Nichols before it is a campus like none other. If you have ever seen a prep school in Boston or Vermont you can then picture Nichols. Nichols has everything that a person would want.
All it’s building our on one campus. It has the old feel to it as well. Stepping on the Nichols campus is like stepping back in the time. You have a sense of history when walking around the school. The buildings are old, but modern at the same time. It has a rustic field.
The campus is something to see. It has two soccer/football/lacrosse fields overlooking the street. It’s baseball diamond and tennis courts are located in the back.
But the jewel of the campus would be the hockey arena. Not many schools have a hockey arena on campus. Shoot, not many schools in Western New York has a rink they can call their own. At Nichols, however, hockey is the way of life.
There have been a lot of young men and women who have laced up their skates and gone onto great college and even professional careers. Nichols has produced National Hockey League players and even players that have suited for the United States.
There is a sense of tradition of when putting on the green and white sweater and having Nichols blazed across the front. Playing for the school means something bigger than yourself. A couple years back, Nichols produced a pretty good hockey player in Sean Malone. Malone went on to have a great career at Harvard before signing with the Buffalo Sabres.
The next big name right now to come out of the school is Cole Donhauser. Maybe a lot of you don’t know the name. It could be because Nichols doesn’t play local school like Bishop Timon or St. Joe’s. They aren’t in the Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation like most of the school in the area.
If you haven’t seen him play it’s a shame. Donauser is as good as they get. He has speed, power and could put the puck in the net. Colleges and universities have taken notice of the type of talent that Donhauser is.
When choosing where he wanted to attend college, Donhauser knew he had an opportunity to choose a place that he may never have the chance to attend. Thinking outside box for hockey has opened door to other places and things.
“When I began to realize that I could take my hockey onto the next level, I knew I wanted to go somewhere where I normally wouldn't be able to attend, such as an Ivy League school. When I visited (Yale), the coaches and I seemed to be on the same page about the type of game they like to play and the type of game I like to play with a head coach who has been there for over a decade and has created a great program with six NCAA tournament appearances and one national championship in 2013,” explained Donhauser. “Also, the campus was my favorite of all that I visited as it was so beautiful and just felt right. Included in this campus is the unreal hockey rink "The Whale" that is extremely nice with an amazing atmosphere from all the fans on game nights.”
Going to Yale won’t be that different than attending Nichols. Nichols has that prep/Ivy League school feel. Nichols is known for a very rigorous academic setting – which will get any student prepared college.
That is one of the reasons why Donhauer chose to go to Nichols. He knew he wanted to give hockey a shot. But, if hockey didn’t work out, then he knew he could always fall back on a great education.
“Nichols has given me relationships and connections that will last a lifetime. Nichols has shown me how to deal with real world problems and how to make an impact on a community through academics, community service, and athletics,” stated Donhauser. “After Nichols, I know I will be prepared for anything in the classroom as well as allowing me to reach my full potential in anything I do.”
The sky truly is the limit for Danhauser. He could have easily left high school early and continued his development playing junior hockey – which seems to be the normal route these days. But there was something about finishing what he started.
He came to Nichols four years ago to accomplish a list of the goals. And, if he left early, those goals wouldn’t be completed. One of the goals was to head into his senior year with the “C” on his sweater.That was a goal he accomplished at the beginning of the season.
“I started here and I wanted to finish here with a Nichols diploma and a C on my jersey,” stated Donhauser. “I know hockey has the chance to take me very far in life, but I know the chances of that are always very slim which is why my education at Nichols and in the future, at Yale, is very important to me.”
What’s also important is development. Donhauser may be good to compete at the high school level. But, high school and college are a completely different thing. He knows that to be able to compete for a spot as a freshman at Yale, Donhauser will still need to get faster and stronger.
It part of the growing process of a young athlete. Donhauser won’t be your typical 22-year-old freshman, which seems to be the way college teams are being built these days. He will be your typical 18, 19-year-old kid trying to make the team.
“Before I put on a Yale jersey, I feel that I mainly need to work on my acceleration - which also involves me getting into the gym a lot,” stated Donhauser. “Improving my balance, and just getting stronger overall will be very important before playing against much older and more skilled players.”
This is a big time in Danhausers’ life. Besides getting ready for college, there will be the National Hockey League draft. Every child putting on the skates at a young age dreams of playing in the NHL. Dream are what make life tolerable. But, only few get the opportunity.
Daunhauser hasn’t put much thought into whether or not he will be drafted. He knows either way he can use his college education for much more than hockey.
“I haven't thought about it too much. People have asked me about the upcoming NHL draft and I never would even think that I'd be able to go to the NHL,” stated Donhauser. “Over the past couple years I've learned it's better to play to prove yourself wrong rather than others. But if I do well at Yale and am given the opportunity to play professionally then that's great and obviously a dream come true. If not, then I'm not complaining having my hockey give me a Yale degree and relationships that last forever.”
By his side every step of the way has been a loving and supporting family. From his sister, who played Division I softball, to an older brother who helped him work on his game, everyone has been there to cheer him on.
“My family has helped me enormously throughout this journey. My sister played Division I softball at Binghamton University, so she has helped me a lot about what it means and how much work it is to be a DI athlete at an academically vigorous school. My older brother has given me my competitive side to my game from a young age often beating up on me in mini sticks or street hockey making me so angry we'd often put many holes in the wall from the heated physicality and competitiveness,” stated Donhauser. “I never liked to lose from a young age and never took it well. My parents have always been there for me in teaching me life lessons as they were involved in my college process from the start. Whether it was how to better conduct myself with the college coaches or little things about being a leader on and off the ice, etc. My family will always play a big role in my life/hockey career.”