Making Plays With Michael Deiter

 

In the midst of his rookie season as a guard for the Miami Dolphins, Michael Deiter sat down with USA Hockey Magazine to talk about the impact hockey had on him growing up. Once an elite youth hockey player, the 6’6” and 310-pound lineman credits hockey with developing him as both an athlete and a person. 

USA Hockey Magazine: How did you get involved in hockey and start playing?

Michael Deiter: I started playing hockey when I was three. My dad always liked hockey when he was a kid and growing up, so he wanted to get me into it. I think I first put on skates when I was three. 

USAH Mag: And how would you describe what kind of player you were?

MD: I played left wing but I was always way bigger than everyone so I wasn’t very fast. I did score goals, I don’t know if I had the best stick-handling, edges, anything like that. But I was always smart, I was always in the right place at the right time, knowing I wasn’t the fastest kid ever. But I had a good shot, that’s something I always took pride in and just being smart.

USAH Mag: So, at what point did you make the switch from hockey to football?

MD: I was totally done with hockey freshman year and just played football from the start of freshman year out. But up until eighth grade it was pretty much all hockey and no football, I didn’t really play football seriously until eighth grade.

USAH Mag: Do you ever miss playing hockey or was there ever a moment that you wish you’d stuck with it?

MD: I guess whenever I would go to Wisconsin’s game and watch their hockey team or I would go and see my buddies who still play hockey, and then I’ll go back and do drop-ins with my buddies who still play and just get out there and skate around and have fun. I miss it a little bit but I guess there was never a point where I was like “ah man, I should’ve kept playing hockey” because obviously football worked out really well. But I miss playing hockey in general. But I still love to play pond hockey or go play drop-in.

USAH Mag: You mentioned Wisconsin’s games and their team. I mean I know their football program has a good reputation, but did playing previously and having a passion for hockey have any sort of part in choosing Wisconsin for college?

MD: I’d say a little bit. I knew they’d have a good hockey team and as a fan I could go watch and I always wondered if I could go and skate with those guys. I was close to skating with them; I just wanted to be a guy at practice like passing pucks around or something like that. Just the cult culture I wanted to be in too.

USAH Mag: Do ever have the chance to get back out on the ice?

MD: In the off-season, I’ll go skating at least three or four times. But I can’t just go. People will ask if I want to go to open skate, but I need pucks and a goalie. 

USAH Mag: It may be a bit of a stretch but, for you, are there any parallels between the sports?

MD: One, off the ice, off the football field, there’s a ton that goes into it. Dryland training and all that stuff you do off the ice just to get ready for the season and then it’s a team game. Hockey is a team game. You need everyone to be on, you need everyone to be on the right spot at the right time, making smart decisions. Both are also fast and it’s physical. Take in hockey, for example, if you get checked. You might get the wind knocked out of you but you still have to play. The same goes for football, but that’s every play for me. Things happen in split seconds – it’s a lot of changing directions, thinking on the fly. But there’s definitely some similarities and then some differences.

USAH Mag: So, in that case, do you think hockey prepared you – even in a small way – helped prepare for a career in pro sports, be it football?

MD: I mean playing any sport is going to help make you a better competitor. But in hockey, there’s so many things that helped develop me – like my feet, my hips. I would say most of my lower body power was kind of generated through dryland training, just skating with like parachutes and stuff like that. And then, switching to football training, which is fairly similar but more strength stuff, but still like the same athletic movements and balance work. 

USAH Mag: Being a multisport athlete growing up and talking about the influence one sport had another, what is the advice you’d give to kids? Not necessarily hockey players, but in general, for every kid that has that dream of playing professionally.

MD: I think that’s the most important thing you can do as a kid, just play all the sports because each sport has something and there’s a lot of crossover between sports. You’re developing certain parts of your body; you’re creating an ability to be part of a team and you’re also just creating friendships. Things like learning about winning and losing help you become the best athlete you can possibly be, regardless of the sport.

USAH Mag: That’s awesome. Well, thank you for taking the time today. Have a good remainder of the season.

MD: Thank you. Have a great day.

 

Stay tuned for the USA Hockey Magazine's March issue for the full feature article.

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