Former Buckeye field hockey player and 2018 Bucks Go Pro intern Maddy Humphrey returns with Humphrey Highlights covering other student-athletes. Humphrey checked in with Sean Romeo, highlighting his selection to the Mike Richter Award Watch List earlier in the season and being awarded the NCAA Elite 90 Award.
(A special shoutout and thanks to Maddy, who earned her degree in communication Sunday, for the Humphrey Highlights series!)
Sean Romeo is a redshirt junior from Cary, N.C., and is a finance major that hopes to play in the NHL one day. After his ice hockey career is over, he hopes to utilize his degree and enter the world of finance.
During Romeo’s first playing season as a Buckeye he made an impact from the beginning, leading all the way to the NCAA Frozen Four. Romeo was announced as a semifinalist for the Mike Richter Award in March. The Mike Richter Award is a prestigious goaltender award that highlights the most exceptional goaltender across the NCAA men’s ice hockey teams. To be nominated, a candidate must perform at an outstanding level on the ice, maintain a respected academic attainment in the classroom, have great sportsmanship and have an impactful presence in the community. Romeo attains all of these qualities in his character and in his actions that his coach and other NCAA coaches recognize.
“I owe the Mike Richter nomination to my coaches and teammates, who all bought into a defensive system and made my job easier,” Romeo said. “Without the guys sacrificing their body and buying into our systems I would not have been able to achieve this nomination.”
The Elite 90 Award is awarded to the student-athlete that possesses the highest GPA among all of the student-athletes at the Frozen Four. Romeo is not only a dominant force in the net, but he also plays a dominant role in the classroom for the Buckeyes.
“I think I was able to obtain the Elite 90 award because I did a good job managing time outside of the rink and making sure I got everything done I needed to so that it would not be a problem with hockey,” Romeo said.
Because of NCAA rules Romeo had to sit out for a year after he transferred from Maine and it was not the easiest battle to face for the student-athlete. Before his junior season he decided to reach out to a few of his friends that are on the team here at Ohio State and told them he was interested in possibly making a big move to Columbus. His now-teammates got Romeo connected with [then Ohio State assistant coach] Joe Exter and after a visit to campus Romeo immediately fell in love with the school and decided to make Columbus his new home. Even though Romeo was ecstatic to transfer to Ohio State he knew there would be a price, as he couldn’t competitively play for a year.
“Going into the season I was not sure what to expect and how I would handle it,” Romeo said. “I received a lot of support from my teammates and coaches that made a huge difference. I also decided before the season that year could either be used to improve my game and help me come back even stronger, or it could be used to feel bad for myself and hope everyone else did too. I decided this adversity would only make me a better athlete and person and I decided to face every day as a challenge to get everything out of it I possibly could.”
After sitting out for a year, Romeo became the anchor of the Buckeye team that reached the 2018 Frozen Four, playing in 37 games with an outstanding save percentage of .927 (ranking ninth in the NCAA). Being a semifinalist for the Mike Richter Award and earning the Elite 90 Award are two of his many accomplishments throughout his first season playing in the Scarlet and Gray. Romeo was selected to the All-Big Ten Second Team, finished in the Top 3 for Big Ten Goaltender of the Year, was a B1G Star of the Week five times throughout the season and was awarded NCAA Midwest Regional Most Outstanding Player. To say the least, Romeo had a breakout season as a Buckeye.
This season was a historical run for the Buckeyes, making it all the way to the Frozen Four to face Minnesota Duluth in the first round. Romeo’s most memorable game this past season was when the Buckeyes beat Denver in the second round of the NCAA tournament, which secured the team a spot at the Frozen Four for the first time in 20 years.
“Making it to the Frozen Four was definitely a great experience for our team,” Romeo said about the unbelievable season and his expectations for his senior year. “I think that experience will really help us next year because we know what it takes to get there and what to expect when we do. There was never a doubt in our locker room that we deserved to be there. We knew we were not one of the teams being talked about by the ‘experts’ so we decided to play with a chip on our shoulder and prove that we belonged there.”
Romeo believes that this team can go even further next year and he mentioned a few goals he knows the Buckeyes are fighting for: regular season B1G champions, B1G Tournament champions and the NCAA championship title. If the Buckeyes perform and improve as they did this year, anything is possible for next year’s season.
Growing up in North Carolina there wasn’t as much ice hockey as there is in the Midwest and Northeast, but Romeo found a way to find the sport he loved to play. Romeo closes with some guidance for all the young athletes out there trying to find their passion or sport.
“My only advice to a young athlete just starting is to do whatever they love.” Romeo said. “Many people talk about things I do as hard work, but I do not view it as that. I view it as simply doing the thing I love. I believe if a young athlete can fall in love with a sport he or she will give everything they have to that sport because that is simply what they want to do.”