White, Black, and Blue All Over

The art of shot blocking and one senior's battle with the bruises of hockey

Senior defenseman Travis White skates ahead of the pack during a practice.
Senior defenseman Travis White skates ahead of the pack during a practice. Michael A. Corn, Photographer
Three seasons ago, Ferris State hockey players skated off of the Tampa Bay Forum ice disheartened and defeated while Boston College celebrated their National Championship.

Among the disappointed Bulldogs was defenseman Travis White who was in his freshman season at the time. White is playing now in his senior season and hoping to bring his career to a full-circle ending with another trip to the National Championship.

“I mean the number one goal for every college hockey team is to get to the National Championship and to do it as a freshman was pretty outstanding. We had a great time and the seniors really showed us the path to get there and everyone just kind of followed suit. Still, last time we made it there and lost it which was a pretty big disappointment, so the goal is to make it back again this year and anything less would be a disappointment in our eyes.” White said.

Having already played on the biggest stage in NCAA hockey, White knows what it takes to make it to the college hockey promised land. Sometimes, the road is laden with bumps and bruises, but the team pushes on nonetheless.

“I don’t even think about blocking shots anymore. A lot of people laugh and ask if the shot hurts, but we have so much padding that a lot of times I don’t even feel them. We sacrifice the body, and I don’t mean just me blocking shots, but credit our whole team, because we’re all willing to make sacrifices,” White said. “To me, blocking a lot of shots has just kind of become second nature. There is the occasional shot that catches you where there’s no padding and those ones tend to hurt, but at the end of the day if we’re winning games then the shots don’t bother me any.”

White has developed a bit of a reputation as a shot blocker, and teammate C.J. Motte is the primary benefactor of White’s efforts. Motte, a fellow senior also played on the team that made a championship run, commends White’s efforts to help the team at all costs.

“He goes out there and competes in every game that we have. He’s always out there blocking shots and really doing anything he can to help the team out. Actually, he probably has the most blocked shots on the team. He’s not afraid to sacrifice any part of his body. He’s taken shots off the head a couple of times and off the ankle. He’s willing to sacrifice any part of his body to take one for the team.” Motte said.

Although White’s shot blocking tendencies help the team defensively, his play on the ice also oftentimes translates into motivation for the rest of the team.

“I think people definitely see him out there blocking shots and stepping up to make some big plays which I think just trickles down to our whole team,” Motte said. “As a team we kind of feed off each other for the most part, so if we see one guy laying out to block a shot or make a big hit, we’re able to build off of that.”

Ferris hockey rarely brings in the highest profile recruits, which is why Coach Bob Daniels finds solid role players and hides them away from in-state competition like Michigan and Michigan State. For White, the road to Ferris was much like a slapshot to the head; obvious.

“Actually it was one of the only schools around here giving me a lot of attention. I was really thankful for the opportunity so I hopped on. It was pretty much the day that they offered me that I decided to come here,” White said. “It’s a great hockey school with a lot of history and I couldn’t be any happier and thankful to show my talents.