Q&A: NU athletes describe the transfer process

Jordan Baron, news correspondent

Change can be tough, specifically when it involves moving away from friends and family to pursue an opportunity somewhere else.

This is what transfer athletes at any university go through. At Northeastern, it is usually unknown how the athletic transfer process compares to one of the everyday student, and how it affects the players themselves. A non-athlete student will use the Common Application to apply as a transfer to other schools. An athlete, however, goes through a process that is a lot more involved, with paperwork involving being released from the team they are on to enable them to talk with other schools who may be interested in them. Another unknown is the motivation for some of these players to change their lifestyles by transferring.

Austin Plevy, Brandon Hawkins and Jordan Roland, who are Division I transfer athletes at Northeastern, spoke of their experience with the transfer process.

Austin Plevy, men’s hockey senior

Plevy is a forward on the Northeastern men’s hockey team from Langley, British Columbia. He played for UMass before transferring to Northeastern at the end of the 2017-18 season. So far in the 2018-19 season, he has played in 31 games for the Huskies, scoring three goals and three assists. He also scored the first goal in the Beanpot final against Boston College.

Plevy’s best year came during the 2015-16 season, when he was still at UMass, when he played in 35 games, scoring 10 goals and 14 assists.

The News: What was your motive in switching schools?

Austin Plevy: Lots of things go into it. I was at UMass Amherst for three years, [and] I was there for a coaching change. Some stuff just happened and I had the credits to graduate in three years, and I had the ability to transfer to Northeastern. It was the opportunity for a fresh start [and] to do grad school. That’s what was it for me.

TN: What has the transfer process been like for you, and how have you adapted to your new team?

AP: For me it went pretty smooth actually. I had help from my parents, they were with me the whole time trying to figure out the process. Obviously when I was at UMass and we started that process they would help to get the paperwork and to get you officially out the door so you can talk to other schools. Once that was done … Northeastern contacted me pretty quickly, and I was pretty excited about that. I wanted to stay in the New England area. Obviously Northeastern is an unbelievable school … so I was very fortunate.

TN: How much support is given to students through the admissions process? How much has athletics helped with the transition?

AP: I don’t know how that works. I think in my situation, being a graduate student might have [made it] a little easier because there’s not as many people getting into graduate school. And obviously they had the spot on the hockey team for me. So I look back and think about it but I can’t think of a challenging time, like I said Northeastern was extremely helpful. I hoped they were excited to have me coming in, so if there was something that needed to get pushed along I think Coach [Jim] Madigan probably had that done. There is no special treatment or anything like that. You have to get the paperwork done on time, you have deadlines, you’ve got to do it right and get it submitted and then get it through.

TN: What was it like to leave Canada to come and play hockey in the United States? Was that process similar to transferring schools?

AP: I guess so. For me … I grew up in an area that was dominated by the Western League major junior, so not the college route. But I was lucky to have people around me that have been through it and they pushed me to the college route. They understood that the opportunity to get a free degree from an American school was incredible. So that was great. I think that being from Canada and moving down to the U.S was never that big of a deal for me … [because] I moved away at 17 or 18. So I have been away from home for a while. Like I said, having the opportunity to come to a U.S. school, and having the opportunities I have had have been incredible. You get lots of coverage now in Canada. There’s lots of news, like the Beanpot game was on TV and TSN. I think we have five or six games a year now on TSN. So it’s becoming more popular in Canada which is great because I would like to see more kids growing up and going the college route and having the opportunities that I have had.

TN: How were the first few months after the transfer?

AP: Obviously coming into a new place, I played in Hockey East for three years so I knew of lots of guys on the team. I had never met them personally. The first day you show up, the guys, the coaches, the support staff, the trainers, are all incredible people. So it was different for me leaving UMass where I was very comfortable with everyone I had been around to a new everything. New city, dorms, food, everything. The guys especially made it very easy for me, they obviously come up and introduce themselves, they get to know you, they want to know you. You’re a part of the family now, the brotherhood of being at Northeastern. I was a little nervous for sure coming in, but it couldn’t have went any smoother. The guys have been fantastic.

Brandon Hawkins, men’s hockey senior

Hawkins is a forward on the Northeastern men’s hockey team from Macomb Township, Michigan. He played for Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, before transferring to Northeastern after the 2015-16 season. After sitting out due to NCAA regulations, he started his NU career halfway through the 2017-18 season. He appeared in 22 games, in which he had five goals and 12 assists. His best season with Northeastern is the current one, in which he has appeared in 31 games, scoring eight goals and 17 assists.

The News: What was your motive in switching schools?

Brandon Hawkins: Going into why I transferred, some things were said that might not have been okay to be said at times. I’ll leave it in that terms, but I needed a fresh start somewhere else. When I look back at it, I had a lot of work that I put in at Bowling Green and it gave me the opportunity to transfer here. So, my motive was mostly a new start.

TN: What has the transfer process been like for you, and how have you adapted to your new team?

BH: Mine was a bit more difficult than Austin’s because he was already graduated and he had all of his credits done. When I transferred I had to get a release from Bowling Green which took about two weeks. I then had to withdraw from the semester that I was in there so I ended up … losing almost a quarter of the credits that I had at Bowling Green. But, my advisor helped me from school, and then my advisor that helps me within hockey talked to Northeastern and got the ball rolling in which I came on a visit. And then we started to get my transfer credits and that whole spiel ready. It was a long process but I wouldn’t say it was a hard one. It went pretty smooth.

TN: Is the transfer process for athletes similar to the transfer process for a regular student? What do you think are the differences there?

BH: It is but it isn’t, because when it comes to being an athlete, you have to have a certain amount of percentage done towards your degree in order to be eligible to play. So, if you transfer in and your credits don’t transfer with you, that takes away from your percentage towards graduation. If you don’t reach that percentage, then you will be ineligible to play until you get that percentage back.

TN: How much support is given to students through the admissions process? How much has athletics helped with the transition?

BH: As long as you keep to the deadlines and you get things done the way they are supposed to be done … it is a pretty easy process. I don’t think that we get too much help other than coach [Jim Madigan] asking if we’re getting our stuff done on time. So, if they see you getting your stuff done on time, they understand that you want to be here. If you show that you want to be here then they’re going to make it happen.

TN: Was the transition from Michigan to Bowling Green similar to the transfer process from Bowling Green to Northeastern?

BH: I originally committed [to Bowling Green] because my dad has an extremely bad back, so he has a hard time getting around. It was only an hour and a half away from my house, so for him to come to games was a lot easier. Going there, I committed a lot on the premise that it was close to home. When transferring out here, I wanted to play here when I originally thought of playing college hockey when I was playing juniors, and I never got the chance because I committed so early to even talk to Northeastern. So, the second that I left Bowling Green, this was the first place that I wanted to go. When that happened, as soon as I talked to them it was kind of like a dream come true, because this was the place that I wanted to play all along, and I finally got the opportunity to do that.

TN: How were the first few months after the transfer?

BH: I came in at Christmas time. A team has that chance to bond from September to December, and I wasn’t a part of that at any time. I was back home just training on my own and doing my own thing. So when I got here, I specifically remember … they all welcomed me in like I was family right away. When I got here I instantly felt like I was part of the team. So that was huge … [and] it was almost like I was a part of the family. When I came in, [I was] kind of nervous, trying to fit in and doing different things like that, so they made it very easy for me.

Jordan Roland, men’s basketball junior

Roland is a guard on the Northeastern men’s basketball team from Syracuse, New York. He played for George Washington University in Washington, D.C., before transferring to Northeastern after the 2016-17 season. Due to an NCAA transfer rule, he had to sit out the 2017-18 season, but he jumped into the 2018-19 season and has posted great numbers so far.

Roland is averaging 14.3 points per game, the highest of his collegiate career. His field goal percentage lies at .441 while his three-point percentage is slightly lower at .403. His free throw percentage is .889. His best game of the season came on Nov. 9 in a win over Harvard, when he scored 35 points and shot .692 from the field.

The News: What was your motive for deciding to leave your old school and come to Northeastern?

Jordan Roland: There was a lot going on at my old school. There was a coaching change. That was probably the biggest reason. There was a lot surrounding it, I don’t know if I want to get to deep into it. I just decided it was time to go. There was a coaching change and I was one of a lot of kids to leave, so I decided it was probably best for me to go a separate way.

TN: What was the transfer process like, and how have you adapted to Northeastern?

JR: The transfer process was smooth. I got recruited by a couple of schools, and decided to pick Northeastern. Coming to Northeastern I think was a really smooth transition. I think the team is pretty welcoming, I like the staff and I like the guys. Having a redshirt year was nice to just having that year to get acclimated to the school before having to play. No complaints at all about the transfer process.

TN: How much support is given to students through the admissions process? How has athletics helped with that process?

JR: I don’t remember any issues with admissions. I came into the school, [and] some credits didn’t make it through. But it was pretty smooth overall.

TN: What were the first few months after your transfer like?

JR: After I decided to transfer I was still on campus at George Washington, so those couple of months were kind of awkward. I had two months at home and it was kind of weird being a sophomore having already been at school for two years and not going back to the same place. [It] was almost like you’re coming in as a freshman again. My first month here, I really liked it. For Summer II, pretty much our whole team was here, and getting acclimated to the guys was pretty nice. Working out with everybody, I thought it was good.

TN: What would you say the key differences are between being a Division I athlete at Northeastern versus being a Division I athlete at another school?

JR: I would assume it is probably pretty similar. Obviously depending on what level you’re at, I’m sure the guys at Syracuse get a lot more than we do, and we’re probably treated a little better than some lower major schools. But, between George Washington and Northeastern, the two were pretty comparable. I wouldn’t say there is anything special about it, but there’s nothing bad about it either, it’s just normal.

TN: What was the transition like when leaving home to play basketball at George Washington? And was that transition similar to the process of transferring from George Washington to Northeastern?

JR: I think the major difference between those two things is just going to George Washington as a freshman, that was my first time being away from home. So, that was definitely a little tougher. I lived at home my whole life, I didn’t go to a prep school or anything. I had to leave in the summer too, so that was the senior summer with all of my friends, so that was really sad to see all of my friends at home having fun while I was working out at GW. But, similar thing transferring, you have to meet new people and make new friendships, but having already been away from home for two years I think made that transition a little easier. I was just acclimating to a new place.