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Intense, Focused Wojdyla Enjoying RPI

By Kevin Beattie

Game Program, February 12, 2005

Although he does not have a twin, there is someone who looks just like Cody Wojdyla walking around the RPI campus. Same height and weight. Same hair and eye colors. Same everything. If you're an Engineer hockey fan you would definitely recognize him - until you converse.

"I have found that for me to be successful in hockey, I really need to pour my heart and soul into it," said Wojdyla, a senior forward on this year's hockey team. "I want people to hate to play against me on the ice, and intensity is how I try to accomplish that. It seems like I use up all of my intensity for hockey, so when it comes time to do non-hockey things, I am a little more mellow."

Wojdyla may come across as a bit more laid back in social situations, but even then he still has his focal point.

"There is the in-season me and the off-season me," he said. "During the season, all I think about is hockey. I am pretty serious and focused almost all of the time during the season, because I feel like if I am not, it affects me on the ice."

"When the season is over, I still focus on the training and preparing for the next season, but I am able to chill out a little. I fool around a lot more and I spend more time roaming around campus and hanging out with different people."

It should be no surprise that Wojdyla takes the game so seriously because that is the way it has always been for him and his family. "I have played hockey my entire life and my sister played many sports, including lacrosse and field hockey. My parents weren't the type of people to just throw is in the car with a neighbor to attend practice. They carted us all over the place, usually splitting up time if there were conflicts. Looking back on my and my sister's childhood, my parents rarely missed a game or a practice."

That is still the case, as Glory and Mike, Cody's parents, have been all over the country to see their only son play.

"They both save up all of their sick days and have attended every one of my collegiate games," Cody said.

Glory, a teacher, and Mike, who heads up the IT department for Northwest Utilities in Syracuse, did the same for Cali, their only daughter, who was a standout lacrosse player at Rutgers before graduating last May.

Cody, too, played lacrosse at a high level and nearly went that route when forced to choose between playing with a stick and a ball or a stick and a puck.

"Syracuse is a hotbed for lacrosse, and not playing would be the equivalent to not playing hockey if you were from Canada," he said. "I love the sport and made the varsity team when I was a sophomore. This was a huge accomplishment since it is very rare for a sophomore to get bumped up. I started my sophomore year and was one of the top scoring middies on the team. For the four years from eighth grade to my sophomore year, hockey took the backburner to lacrosse."

"It all changed when I made the Junior 'A' team in Syracuse at the start of my junior year. At this point it was time to make a choice as to which sport to focus on, since both were requiring such a huge commitment. It was then I realized that hockey was really all I was ever thinking about. It was hard ditching lacrosse and a possible scholarship to college, but it was by far the best choice of my life. I still play lacrosse in the off-season and I still think it is a great sport."

Cody's decision appeared to be a wise one as he eventually got the opportunity to play hockey at the Division I level at Fairfield University. Following his sophomore season, however, the school dropped the program. So it was back to the drawing board.

"My instant reaction was anger. I was so mad that they had dismantled such a great group of guys and that I was left without a team. Every game after the announcement, it was like juniors all over again with the recruitment process. One second you're focusing on the season and the next second you're focusing on leaving."

"After a couple of days, though, the anger to excitement. I became excited for the opportunity to move to a better program and a better league. As I left Fairfield, I realized that the only thing I was going to miss was my friends, but they all left too, so I really didn't feel like I was leaving anything behind."

For someone of Cody's style of play - hard shifts, going into the corners, throwing his body around - it didn't take long for someone to offer him a second chance at playing college hockey.

"I am friends with Matt Murley and I can remember how excited he was when he decided to go here. All he talked about was the school and the team, and I thought about that and decided I really wanted to be a part of it," he said. "I talked to Coach Fridgen and looked into the school and found out that it would be a perfect match for me."

"I came down for a visit in the spring after I committed and it was like I was instantly part of the team. I had a great time getting to know my future teammates that first night, and it has developed into two of the best years of my life. My experience has been more than I could have ever dreamed."

"Every time I take that first lap around the Field House, either in practice or a game, I can't help but think about all of the tradition and the honor that the ice holds. To be a part of something that strong is an experience that most people never have."

"On top of that, the entire community has taken me in with open arms. The guys on the team have been so supportive and such good friends, the coaches have taught me so much about hockey, and the fans have always been there cheering for our team. That kind of support is what has made my experience so amazing. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for everything RPI offers."

For the fans of Rensselaer hockey, especially those who get to know the more mellow Cody, the feeling is mutual.