Jurky Jurkovich never thought she’d play hockey again. Not after a severe leg injury landed her in multiple surgeries and with a full knee replacement, taking her off the ice for nearly ten years. But after stepping into Pepsi Center Arena for an open-skate one day, nostalgia kicked in and her love of the game came rushing back.

“Hockey is just in my blood,” Jurkovich said. “I was determined to get back out there.”

After extensive training, encouragement from her husband, and a twist of fate landed her at DU, Jurkovich, 41, joined the DU Women’s Hockey Team in 2015.

When she applied to DU’s University College, Jurkovich was initially drawn to the university because of the men’s hockey team.

“That’s one of the reasons why I chose to apply to DU—so I could watch the men’s hockey,” she said. “It just so happens they had the perfect [academic] program for me and then I found out there was a club team for women.”

Jurkovich is a current graduate student at University College, where she is pursuing a master’s degree in New Media and Internet Marketing. Once Jurkovich enrolled at University College, a friend encouraged her to look into the women’s hockey team. Once she discovered graduate students were eligible to play, she threw her hat in the ring. She made the team instantly.

“To be able to play hockey at DU—at my age—and getting to play on a team with these girls, it’s the ultimate dream come true for me.”

Another compelling reason for Jurkovich to attend DU was its convenient location next to the light rail, which proved useful for late night practices during the work week (10:30 to midnight at Magness Arena). The schedule proved challenging, but worth it to Jurkovich, who became a confidant to her younger teammates. With a full-time job as the Creative Director (a.k.a “Branding Iron”) at Perky Jerky, plus her desire to pursue a graduate degree, Jurkovich had her hands full last season. She found University College to be the ideal solution.

“I couldn’t do it any other way—the flexibility of the program, the option to do it online or on campus, that made all the difference,” she said.

Playing on the team this season—the team’s first appearance in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA)—was a fulfilling experience for Jurkovich, who was thrilled to travel to Minnesota for a tournament in January.

“Playing in those arenas and being on the ice, I didn’t think I’d have that again.” Jurkovich hasn’t decided if she would be back in the rink next season, but suspects when the time comes, she will be easily persuaded. “It’s hard to resist it, when it’s what you love.”

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