The University of Central Oklahoma College of Business Student Success Center partnered with the men’s UCO Hockey Team to host professional hockey player, Rocco Grimaldi, of the National Hockey League (NHL) team, Nashville Predators, and American Hockey League (AHL) team, Milwaukee Admirals, in a virtual Zoom event, Jan. 31. Grimaldi is the brother of Niccole Miller, Ph.D., senior director of strategic initiatives for student success for the College of Business, who organized the event and moderated the conversation.
“Rocco’s practice of living his life with purpose and intentionality as a student, athlete and person makes him a great role model for our student-athletes and UCO hockey players,” said Miller.
“Not only is he the fourth shortest player to ever record significant minutes in the NHL, which comes with its own challenges and adversity that he gracefully persists through, he finished his bachelor’s degree online during the first season of his professional hockey career and is now pursuing his master’s degree fully online while continuing to play.”
UCO hockey players, coaching and administrative staff joined the virtual Zoom room after practice for a question-and-answer conversation with Grimaldi and Miller. In addition to sharing highlights about his student-athlete experience at the University of North Dakota, Grimaldi spoke about the importance of time management in balancing athletic and academic responsibilities, compartmentalizing and finding motivation to focus on school and hockey, and the bond and brotherhood that comes with winning a championship.
“The way he’s able to relate to them from a hockey side of things and then a school side of things, it really speaks to them and hits home completely differently when you hear it from a guy who’s playing in the NHL,” said Mike Rivera, head coach of Central’s UCO Hockey Team.
After redshirting his freshman year at UND due to a season-ending knee injury, Grimaldi went on to lead his collegiate team in points, goals, assists and shorthanded goals his sophomore year before beginning his professional NHL career with the Florida Panthers. Grimaldi was not only a decorated athlete, but also earned Academic All-National Collegiate Hockey Conference and Dean’s List honors and received UND’s Cliff “Fido” Purpur Award for exemplifying hard work, determination and being a creator of excitement on the ice.
“The different perspective was really neat and him going through similar stuff as what some of our guys are going through with injuries, school, and balancing school and hockey — a lot of guys will use this stuff and hopefully they can better their schooling and time management,” said Cooper Krauss, hockey team captain and general business major.
Grimaldi is a gold medalist from the 2011 International Ice Hockey Federation World U18 Championship in Germany; won first-place at the 2010 Men’s Under-19 Four Nations Cup in Sundsvall, Sweden; was named the 2012-13 Rookie of the Year at UND; was selected in the second round, 33rd overall, by the Florida Panthers in the NHL Entry Draft in 2011; set NHL and Predators franchise records after scoring four goals in a single game; and, was recently named AHL Player of the Week. He is a 5-foot-6 forward who plays for the Milwaukee Admirals, an affiliate of the Nashville Predators.
The two-time National Champion UCO Hockey Team is a Division I member of the American Collegiate Hockey Association. The team is coached by Rivera, former UCO hockey player and alumnus who graduated from Central’s College of Business with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA.
For more information, contact Miller at 405-974-5246 or email@example.com.