Florida Gulf Coast University hockey fans, don’t fret. Jack Emmer is still on the team. You see him mostly watching the games from outside the glass instead of being on the ice where he belongs. Due to an upper body injury, Emmer hasn’t been playing for the majority of the season.
“Throughout the years, I’ve had multiple injuries, and now they’re just coming back to haunt me; especially my shoulder,” Emmer said. “I’ve had issues with it in the past. We want to make sure it’s 100 percent before I get back on the ice because if I’m just going to get injured again, it’s not worth it.”
The FGCU Division II defenseman has been playing hockey for as long as he can remember. Originally from Minnesota, the junior has always had hockey in his life.
“I got into hockey because my parents signed me up for it,” Emmer said. “Growing up there was always an outdoor rink in the backyard. I couldn’t tell you when it first began because that’s going back way too far. Hockey’s always been there.”
Emmer stayed in Minnesota until he finished high school. He went on to play in junior leagues after graduating.
“I moved to Saskatchewan, Canada,” Emmer said. “I signed with the Weyburn Red Wings in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. It was a huge change for me. Later on I ended up playing with my brother in Manitoba.
“My older brother had played juniors all across Canada,” Emmer said. “I’ve always wanted to follow what he was doing. I had some options to stay in Minnesota and play hockey there. My brother always told me about how much fun he was having and the experience, so I wanted that.”
After gaining the juniors experience, playing and being traded in leagues across Canada, Emmer decided that going to college was going to be in his best interest.
“I got traded to a team in Toronto,” Emmer said. “I was very excited and didn’t really believe it at first. Four days after I was going to report, they told me they already had a player. They found another guy for the role they were going to put me in, and I was going to get traded. I was 10 minutes away from leaving. I had my dad and my mom there when I got that call. I decided within 10 minutes that it was time to settle down and go to school.”
Emmer began his collegiate hockey career in Minnesota.
“I had no idea that they even played hockey in Florida,” Emmer said. “I was committed to playing NCAA DIII in Minnesota at Bethel University. I went there for a year and a half before I came here. I ended up here after talking to a friend back home who had played club hockey. He told me how great it was and how much fun he had. A few months earlier, my parents told me about this school because they vacation down here every year. So I called Bob [Brinkworth] and ended up here for hockey and school.”
Being born and raised in a northern state where hockey consumes every waking moment, Emmer said that he didn’t expect to come to Florida and find the caliber of players that he has on the FGCU team.
Last year was Emmer’s first year with FGCU. He lived with senior Erik Frits when he first began playing hockey and attending FGCU. After Frits graduated and moved back to Pennsylvania, Emmer had to find new roommates.
“I live with Logan Garst and Brett Sutton now,” Emmer said. “Moving down here was a very difficult transition. Because the hockey community is so tight, we all live together because it makes for an easier transition. The camaraderie is just so close between all of us. The only way to describe it is ‘For the Boys.’”
“For the boys” is a common term heard among hockey players. If you aren’t involved in the hockey community, it’s a term that almost nobody can relate to. The term really revolved solely around being the best friends, teammates and family that they can for each other.
“Having such a close-knit group benefits us because the chemistry is that much better between the guys,” Emmer said. “It’s more fun to celebrate the good times, and it’s easier to go through the tough times together.”
Recently, Emmer returned from Washington D.C. where his family attended the inauguration into Congress for his father, Tom Emmer. Emmer has watched his father involved in politics since he was about 12 years old.
“He was a state representative in Minnesota,” Emmer said. “After about three years, he ran for governor. He lost by 9,000 votes. There was a fiasco with a recount, and he ended up conceding. I think that my dad still had the urge to be a public servant, and it worked out for him.”
Emmer is a political science major intending on going to law school when he finishes at FGCU. He doesn’t believe that a career in politics is something that he can plan for.
“I think politics are very intriguing,” Emmer said. “I have to establish myself in other things first.”
He also said that it’s something he hopes to be on the table for himself in the future. He’s starting here at FGCU, where he’ll be running for Student Government in the upcoming FGCU elections.
“I’ve always looked up to my dad and he has been an inspiration in my life and my future,” Emmer said. “Being in Washington D.C. for inauguration for my father was really special. It was great having my entire family together. It was my first time there, and I really enjoyed the history aspect. Also, seeing my dad sworn in was a very proud moment.”
Fun facts about Emmer include superstitions. For anybody who knows athletes, they know that athletes all have some quirky superstitions. It works for them.
“I don’t look at my stats,” Emmer said. “My goal is to win the game, do what I have to do to get the W. I never look at my stats.”
For anybody who knows Emmer personally, you know that his sarcastic sense of humor is one of the many wonderful things about his personality. Every year the hockey team picks a “win song” that they listen to in the locker room after games.
Fans got a kick last year knowing that the team’s win song was Ariana Grande’s and Mac Miller’s “The Way.” This year, the team has chosen the hot Taylor Swift single, “Shake It Off.”
“This year it just didn’t work out for Ariana Grande,” Emmer said. “She’s probably pretty upset that we didn’t pick one of her songs this year. She hasn’t been responding to my tweets after the games, so it was kind of an easy decision not to include her in our wins anymore.”
To get more Jack Emmer, find him at the FGCU hockey games. The team takes to the road to face the Liberty Flames Jan. 30 and 31. The Eagles’ final weekend of the season is Feb. 6 and 7 against the UMass Amherst Minutemen. Games start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 each or free with your Eagle ID card.