David Carson had his sights set on playing college hockey for as long as he can remember. Graduating from Avon Lake in 2009 with a 4.1 GPA, Carson’s goal was to use hockey as a tool to get into a school with extremely high academics. After recently being accepted to Tufts University, Carson can check off those two goals.
After receiving interest from a good amount of other schools, including Hamilton College (New York), Castleton College (Vermont), St. Olaf’s College (Minnesota) and Wesleyan University (Connecticut), Carson said Tufts University won him over because of its high academic standards.
“They are amongst a group of schools often referred to as the ‘Little Ivy’s,'” Carson said. “Out of 15,000 applications for my class, only 1,275 were accepted. On top of that, the players on the team are all great guys and Tufts is located five minutes outside downtown Boston.”
While Tufts is a Division III program, Carson received scholarships and awards that will help pay for part of his education.
Playing for the AAA Cleveland Barons instead of playing high school varsity hockey, Carson served as the team captain his senior year, playing close to 70 games a year as a defensemen and traveling almost every weekend to play teams as far away as Kansas City and Boston.
“It was an unbelievable year,” Carson said. “We were the favorites to win the 18- and-under nationals that year but ended up finishing third. The national tournament was where I was scouted by the South Shore Kings Junior A team.”
After graduating from Avon Lake, Carson moved to Foxboro, Mass. and played in the Eastern Junior Hockey League for the Shore Kings with the goal of getting college exposure.
“Junior A hockey is definitely a full-time job, and then some,” Carson admitted. “I was at the rink from noon to 8 or 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. Between off ice conditioning, lifting, on ice practice and team meetings it was always a full day. I also helped out with training the 12-and-under and 13-and-under teams in the evening.”
Carson admitted playing Junior A hockey was stressful, where a player can be traded or released at any moment.
“We went through a lot of players during the season,” he said. “We especially saw a lot of defensemen join the team only to be traded or cut. It was very stressful knowing that if the coach didn’t want you anymore he could essentially end your hockey career by releasing you.
“Overall it was an unbelievable experience. I grew a lot as a hockey player as well as a person. I’m very proud of the fact that I remained in the starting lineup for the entire season, especially because I’m 5-foot-8 and was the only defensemen under 6 feet.”
Carson said the coaches at Tufts have expressed excitement about him joining the team next year.
“Tufts only needed one freshman defenseman for this season and there were a lot of other candidates for the position,” he said. “I’m proud of the fact that the coaches picked me over all the others. My goal for my freshman year is to be an important part of the defensive unit. I’m confident that I can play an important role on the team my first year.
“I have been playing a 70-game schedule for seven years now and that can start making hockey seem like a job. The college schedule is 26 games plus playoffs, which is a good thing. I believe hockey will become fun again and seem less like work.”
With plans of majoring in civil and environmental engineering, Carson said he’s been doing a lot of offseason lifting and conditioning to prepare for his collegiate debut.
“Despite my love of the game, I do not see myself playing hockey after my college career,” Carson admitted. “I’ve already dedicated 19 years to hockey and by the time college is over, I think I will be ready to move on to the next chapter of my life.”