Meet Chris Kunnen

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S: Hi there, Chris.

C: Hi there, Steve.

S: Would you mind sharing a bit about what it’s like to win
ACHA national player of the year?

C: It’s not the award I was hoping to get this season. But
it’s definitely a tremendous honor, and I take it with humility and pride. A
semi-great way to encapsulate my career here at Hope.

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S: Obviously achieving so much success requires a whole lot
of effort and dedication. How did
you stay motivated throughout the season?

C: I think the one thing I’ve learned through my time
playing hockey at Hope College is that you can’t take one shift off, let alone
one day off at Hope College. Through the example put forth by previous senior classes, I definitely
learned not to take any day for granted. It truly was a blessing to be around the team this year, and that was
all of the motivation I needed to put forth that consistent effort.

S: All of the games we play tend to blur together in my
mind. Is there one that stood out to you from the 2012-2013 campaign?

C: I think there are two that stand out to me. One being the
come from behind win in Saginaw to complete the sweep. In my career, we had
never won in Saginaw. That was
quite an accomplishment for the team. Number two would be the OT loss against Davenport in MCHC playoffs. Although we lost, it was really good to
see the team respond in the third period and carry the pace of play in the
third period.  We were also missing
(Justin) Glick that weekend, so a lot of players stepped up to fill that void.

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S: Let’s break it down even further. Hockey players, like all athletes, have
game day routines. Being a German,
I’d assume you have a strict game day regiment. Care to share?

C: I like to begin my day with a bike ride in the morning,
loosen up my legs and get a good stretch. From there, a mid-afternoon supper normally consisting of pasta and
chicken. I then get dressed in my
suit and go to Biggby’s for a grande
house blend/French roast coffee, black. From there, it’s all business when I get to the arena. 

S: You were also an academic all-American this year. How do you manage being a successful
student-athlete? Any tips to the young aspiring “geek-letes” out there?

C: I knew hockey was not going to be a career for me once I
entered Hope College, so making sure to spend a good portion of my day on
academics was something I always valued. Plus, I have many good friends on the team that hold me accountable. You should approach your studies with
the same enthusiasm that you do when you approach hockey.

S: You’ve already accomplished one of my life goals in your ability to say, “I’ll have the usual” to any
employee at Big Apple Bagel.  Quite
an accomplishment. What is the usual? And what about BABS inspires such customer loyalty?

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C: I’m a big believer in routine because that’s where good
habits come from. The usual
consists of a honey oat bagel with peanut butter, toasted, and a 16 oz.
breakfast blend coffee. It’s just
a great, friendly place to go with my teammates, especially Anthony Gasparotto,
and to share great conversations.

S: I understand you fashion yourself as a musician. Care to explain, Renaissance man?

C: I was never formally trained, but I’ve always been a big
fan of music. I picked up a guitar
in high school and have been self-taught ever since. I’m by no means exceptional, but I’d like to think that I
put some effort into it. Anthony
and I currently have a band with tentative member in Christian Leathley. Our first gig is scheduled in June. We’re currently rehearsing for that.

S: Rumor is, you’re expecting. … A puppy. What’s the story?

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C: I’ve always been a big fan of dogs and now that hockey is
over, I’m entering the next stage of life. I feel like I need someone to fill the void. The puppy’s name is Odin and he is an
English Golden Retriever. He’s going to be a stud. I take that back. He’s already a stud.

S: For all you single ladies out there, that’s your cue. Walking away from hockey will no doubt
be tough. What’s something you’ll take away from hockey and seek to apply in
your life going forward?

C: The memories of practices and games may fade away, but
friendships forged will last forever.

S: [Pause] Had to let that sink in for a bit. We all know hockey is a grueling sport,
no other college sport lasts from October until March. Are you burned out or are you looking
to stay involved with the sport?

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C: Normally after every season, I take about a month off
from hockey. So we will see how I
feel in May. However, I am excited
to watch some playoff hockey.

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S: On a lighter note, how does it feel to have the perennial
and consistent Stanley Cup candidate Red Wings struggle, whilst the rival
Blackhawks make history and write the headlines? I mean, they were on the cover of Sports Illustrated this
year. No small feat for a hockey team. (side by side photo of SI cover)

C: Obviously my allegiance is with the Red Wings. But, when
it comes down to playoffs, I cheer for the Central Division.

S: So ipso facto, you’re cheering for the Hawks?

C: If the Hawks are not playing the Red Wings, I’ll cheer
for them. It’s always good for the
Central Division to have a team competing.

S: Glad we got that settled. Last question: pressure is on to leave my readers with
something profound to ponder. I’m
thinking a piece of advice from a wise senior who already has his feet in the
working world would suffice.

C: Remember to appreciate the little things, because when
you look back and reflect, it’s those little things that made it so special.

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S: Christopher Kunnen, folks.

*Inspired by the interview fellow blogger Cody Brant conducted with me last
year