Publish date:

School of Hard Knocks Women M.B.A. students at Dartmouth build esprit by sticking together

They are impervious to the cold, oblivious that midnight is fast
approaching, and blithely indifferent to the fact that their
peers at Dartmouth College's Amos Tuck School of Business are
studying diligently for exams. They have arrived at James W.
Campion Municipal Rink, two miles from campus, and as the
bantams and mites of the Hanover (N.H.) Youth Hockey League
conclude a practice, they lace up their skates, retape their
sticks and maneuver into their padding before heading onto the

Call them the Mighty Tucks, this crew of 70-plus
women--representing more than half of the graduate school's
female enrollment--who temper their pursuit of their M.B.A.'s by
splitting into equally matched teams and making like Cammi
Granato several nights a week. "At other business schools women
seem much more divided," says Jen Moyer, a second-year student
and intramural league captain for one of the three Tuck's
women's teams. "Here, we bond through hockey."

"Hockey combines teamwork with competitiveness, which is what
we're exposed to day to day in the classroom," says co-captain
Victoria Schwartz. "Also, I think business schools attract a
particular type of woman. Most of us played a varsity sport in
college and like to try new pursuits." Adds the school's dean,
Paul Danos, "Tuck is a highly personal place, and everyone knows
everyone else, so when the majority of the women here play one
sport together, it's an extension of that community spirit."

The skill level runs the gamut from those who captained varsity
hockey teams as undergraduates to novices whose skating
technique resembles Mick Jagger doing his devil strut. During a
practice early in the season, after a valiant yet ultimately
futile effort to explain the niceties of line changes, Nikki
Peck, co-captain, condensed her instructions to a single
call-to-action catchphrase: "Tired legs through the door, fresh
legs over the boards."

Yet for all the icing that goes uncalled and all the slap shots
that fail to get airborne, the practices are intense and the
players are fiercely serious about improving their skills.
"We're out here to have fun, but no one takes it lightly," says
Schwartz between shifts. "By the end of the season, we expect to
be a lot better, both individually and as a unit." The 12-game
season usually opens with a scrimmage against one of Tuck's
men's teams (almost 50% of the male M.B.A. students also play
hockey), includes a series of games against undergrad sororities
and teams from Dartmouth's two other professional schools, and
culminates in February with a weekend-long tournament against
teams from Harvard, Yale, Cornell and other business schools
from the U.S. and Canada.

The games are noticeably free of violence. Two years ago one
student broke a collarbone and last year a woman had a
concussion after colliding with a coach, but "most of our bumps
and bruises occur when we trip over each other by accident,"
says Moyer. "Whenever someone falls down, the first thing you
hear is an opposing player saying, 'I'm sorry.' It's basically a
noncontact sport, but when we play other business schools, it
can get a little rough."

A bigger hazard, though, lies in convincing friends and
relatives that playing hockey is not as far out an idea as it
sounds. "I used to tell my mom I was going to the rink for
figure skating practice. But the fact is there's no way any of
us could be talked out of playing hockey," says Schwartz. "At
least not as long as we still have all our teeth."

COLOR PHOTO: DAMIAN STROHMEYER No Fortune 500 company needs to fear losing any of the Mighty Tuck players to a career in hockey. [Dartmouth's Amos Tuck School of Business' womens hockey team players practicing]