April 19, 2017

Nick Schilkey, Big Ten Medal of Honor Finalist


April 19, 2017

Every year each Big Ten institution awards a male and female student-athlete with a Medal of Honor. First awarded in 1915, the conference’s most exclusive award was the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence. This week each of Ohio State’s ten Big Ten Medal of Honor finalists will be sharing their experiences as Buckeyes and what led them to become the outstanding student-athletes they are today.

My Ohio State journey started when I was a junior in high school. It was at a time when I was just focusing on my current season and hoping to move on to play junior hockey at the next level the following year. Going into that season, I had zero expectations when it came to looking at colleges; nonetheless actually committing to one before the season ended. Although, things don’t always go as planned. During that year, I was fortunate enough to gain interest from Ohio State. Throughout the season, a few other schools reached out but I always had the gut feeling that Ohio State was where I wanted to be.

My first visit down to campus solidified that feeling. It did not take me very long to realize how great The Ohio State University truly was. From the facilities that I was shown, to the coaches, to the campus and the city of Columbus, I was extremely happy when I began thinking that it could be a place I would call home for four years. Shortly after that initial experience, and after another trip or two down to Columbus, I officially made my decision that I wanted to be a Buckeye.

Over the course of my time in Columbus I truly began to realize what it meant to be a Buckeye. To me, being a Buckeye means getting the opportunity to represent the greatest University in the world. Much like some of the quarterbacks that have suited up for us during my time here, I joke that the university is also the best dual threat out there. With the combination of athletics and academics, Ohio State has given me opportunities that I never could have dreamt of. As an athlete here, I have been able to wear the logo that represents all the history of what Ohio State is on my chest for four years. To be able to do that has been the honor of a lifetime for me.

Academically, Ohio State has challenged me and opened my eyes to many disciplines. Being part of the Fisher College of Business has been something that I take a lot of pride in and was a choice that I made without realizing just how beneficial it would be for me in the future. Some of my greatest takeaways from the college have been the real world applications that the professors have imbedded in the classroom. Through my Fisher College experience, I am confident that this university has allowed me to grow as a person and put me in a position to be successful in the next stages of my life and future career.

As for my athletic experience, playing on the Ohio State hockey team has been incredible. It has given me a long list of brothers that I have gained over the past four years and for that I am most fortunate. The camaraderie of the teams that I have been a part of is something that I will certainly miss the most. I have been a part of some incredible games over the past four years and the feeling of winning those big games in the Ohio State jersey is something that I will always miss. This year, we were fortunate enough to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009. The team was a great group of guys that deserved an even better outcome. Getting back to the tournament was a great feat for the program and I am looking forward to watching the program continue to grow and get back to the tournament not only next year but for years to come. Being a captain of this team and last year’s was a huge honor and something that I never took for granted. I will always be proud to say that I was a Buckeye captain and that I had the opportunity to be a captain of an athletic team at The Ohio State University. I know that being in that role allowed me to grow as a leader and as a person and I will always be thankful for my teammates and coaches for placing me in that position.

I also want to thank my parents for everything they have done over the years to allow me the opportunity to play hockey at the Division I level. The sacrifices they had to make were things that for a long time I took for granted. I didn’t realize that although I felt like I had to make a commitment to the game, their commitment level has always been greater. From the miles spent in the car traveling an hour to and from practice at least three days a week growing up and tournaments on the weekends, to saying goodbye and letting me chase my dreams of playing junior hockey in Green Bay, Wisconsin when I was only 16. In reality, only over the past couple years did I really understand the types of things they had to do just for me to keep playing and to get me to the next level. For their commitment and selflessness, I will forever be indebted to them.

As for me, I plan on continuing my hockey career at the next level. I am looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead but I know that through my Ohio State experiences I am ready to take on the future challenges of the real world. I am extremely fortunate that I will always have a degree from The Ohio State University that will allow me to move on to another strong career after my hockey playing days are over. The opportunities that this school has given me somehow continue to grow and I know it is something I have yet to fully wrap my head around.

Finally, I often received questions everywhere I went over the last four years about how a Michigan kid could ever find himself going to Ohio State. In my head, my decision was a no-brainer.  I never had any family ties to either major Michigan school but more importantly than that I made my decision based on what the school truly is. I’ve fallen in love with the school and the city of Columbus and I know that I made the right decision. It’s been awesome watching our football team beat up on TTUN over the past few years and as for the hockey team we have done pretty darn well ourselves. Being a part of that rivalry has been incredible and I definitely didn’t understand just how big of a deal it was until I came down to Columbus. I’m proud to say I’ve been a part of that rivalry and been apart of huge wins against TTUN. I may be a Michigan kid but I am a Buckeye for life.