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Meet the Dawgs: Morgan Alwardt

RJ Craig | January 12, 2024

Morgan Alwardt never thought she would get the chance to play collegiate hockey. However, in her final year at the University of Georgia, Alwardt got the chance and is running with it.

Although the Boston-born Alwardt grew up playing hockey, before she hit the ice, she wore pointe shoes and a tutu and danced on-stage as a ballerina. She did not pick up a hockey stick until she was ten. 

She recalled when she first got into hockey after watching the Stanley Cup Final one year with her brother on TV. They were “mesmerized” by how fast the game was and how seamlessly the players were skating on the ice, so they begged their dad to let them play hockey. 

Their dad happily took them to an old roller rink to teach them how to skate and play, marking the beginning of Alwardt’s hockey career. 

In her first season, she played the forward position, and as a Bruins fan, she “latched on to” Patrice Bergeron, prompting her to wear number 37 in homage to the Bruins player. 

The following season, she ran into Shea Weber, then defenseman on the Nashville Predators, at a Jason’s Deli in Nashville during the 2012 NHL lockout, causing her to switch to defense, the position she has played ever since. 

Alwardt had the privilege of playing hockey but only because of her parents’ relentless sacrifice. 

"They split time between me and my brother as much as they can to come see us play. But they have been very supportive. You know, hockey is not a cheap sport. So growing up, having two kids and travel hockey, they made a lot of sacrifices," Alwardt said. "I had to play in Florida or North Carolina to be on a girl's team, so every other weekend, we were driving down for games…and my brother also played, so he was traveling constantly, so we were always gone."

It was because of her parents' sacrifices that she made so many memories with the sport. One of her favorite memories was when her hockey team qualified for Nationals in Florida, an experience she would never forget.

“That’s the only time I've ever gotten to go to Nationals. And just to see how big hockey is outside of the South. And I remember Massachusetts had their own district because there were that many teams whereas the southeast covered probably like eight to 10 states.”

In high school, Alwardt continued to play hockey, but also played tennis for a couple of years. Going to college, however, she was forced to walk away from the game, since UGA did not have a women’s hockey team at the time.

However, during Alwart's fifth and final year, Hannah Knight, president and founder of the newly established UGA women’s hockey program, reached out to her and asked her if she wanted to play, and without hesitation, she agreed.

In the fall of 2022, she laced up her skates and hit the ice for the first time in four years. 

Being away from the sport for those four years, she missed being able to play alongside teammates.

“I like that you have to work as a team, and you've got each other's backs…you make one mistake, but someone's got you, and you just run another play, but if you make a mistake at tennis, the point’s over and you got to start over,” Alwardt explained. 

As one of the assistant captains on the team, she finds comfort in knowing that her teammates “voted and trusted [her] to be in that role” where they can seek her for tips on improving their game and look up to her as a leader. 

Teammate Claire DeVito said Alwardt is “very supportive,” “very helpful,” and a “perfect assistant [captain].”

Now, in her final year at UGA, as she wraps up her master’s degree in nonprofit management, she hopes to make the most out of her remaining time playing collegiate hockey, whether that is jamming out to some Def Leppard before games or reminiscing over the memories she has made with the team, like when she recorded her first-ever hat trick against Auburn.

Once she graduates in May 2024, she plans to continue working in the nonprofit sector, having been working full-time for the Guide Dog Foundation at UGA.


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