Sept. 18, 2012
By Kim Constantinesco
From the ice to the beach is exactly how junior defenseman Jacob Musselman describes his summer.
Musselman, a junior defenseman on the Falcon hockey team, traded his skates for petanque balls and sand over the summer in Aix-en-Provence, France. For three weeks, he spent four hours in the classroom five days per week, all part of the Air Force Academy's summer language program.
For Musselman, it was his first time overseas. Although the classroom work was valuable in learning a new language, Musselman saw more benefit in his day-to-day actions out on the cobbled streets.
"You didn't even want to go in and try to speak English because you didn't want to offend people and just assume they knew English," Musselman said. "You were forced to use the language when you went to a restaurant. Even when you were around town and you'd get lost, directions were a big thing because the streets are really confusing, so you try to ask in French."
Along with learning the language, Musselman embraced the French culture, and ventured on weekend trips to different areas of the country. He went cliff diving in Nice, he went to the beach in Cassis, and he played countless games of petanque, a bocce-like game popular in France.
Musselman's summer didn't come without a little hockey-related anxiety. He had to step away from the ice for six weeks both while in France and while spending time in Charleston, NC.
The coach-scripted workouts proved to be beneficial, however.
"Once I got back here, I felt like I stayed in good enough shape throughout those six weeks that when I got back, I felt fine on the ice," Musselman said. Musselman also said that he watched his diet more, and focused on taking care of his body.
After playing in two games during his first year at Air Force, Musselman saw action in 14 games last year in which he contributed three points. He hopes to be more of a contributor in the future.
"I'm hoping to be a leader and be more of a regular in the lineup this year," Musselman said. "I've worked the hardest I've ever worked in this off season which was more difficult this summer because I was gone so much, but I figured out a way to work out and train.
Now a veteran on the team, Musselman says that another one of his goals is to be seen as a reliable player.
"I just want to be that guy that they trust to play in games and get the job done," Musselman said.
If his dedication to training off the ice in France is any indication, Musselman should be well on his way to another hockey season highlighted by improved play.
Air Force opens the 2012-13 season with an exhibition game against the University of British Columbia on Monday, Oct. 8, at 6:05 p.m. at the Cadet Ice Arena. The Falcons, the defending Atlantic Hockey Association regular season and tournament championship, open the regular season at the Kendall Classic in Anchorage, Alaska, Oct. 12-13. Air Force opens the home schedule against Colorado College, Friday, Oct, 19, at 7:05 p.m. For tickets, go to www.GoAirForceFalcons.com.