Story by Haley Humphrey - Photos courtesy of Bayley Marshall
Blink-182 blares from the 6-foot-3, nearly 200-pound University of Central hockey player’s headphones. The element of concentration engulfs him as he begins his pre-game ritual of getting ready. Left side gear on first, then the right side. He’s preparing for what comes next. One focal point replays in his mind: To win. The warmup is on fast-forward. The next second, the Broncho is up for the faceoff. The puck drops and the game begins.
But this game, this life, will soon end, forever.
Raised in St. Charles, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, Bayley Marshall decided to leave home for a larger hockey platform. Transferring from Aurora, another suburb of Chicago, where he played Division III NCAA last year, Marshall was ready to tackle new heights. UCO hockey has endured exponential growth and success after being established in 2006 by program builder Coach Craig McAlister. Marshall was ecstatic to share his team’s achievement in winning the last two of three National Championship titles.
Marshall’s hockey career is supported by his family, who loves the sport as much as he does.
“I’ve been skating since I was 3. I love it,” Marshall said.
His father, Robert Marshall, began the hockey legacy, being the first in his family to show interest in the sport that his parents found dangerous. He explained how he practically had to beg his parents to let him play. At age eight they were convinced. Rob Marshall eventually ended up playing college hockey at Lake Forest Academy in Illinois. His passion for the game inspired Marshall, his two brothers, and sister to continue their family’s legacy and learn the techniques of the sport.
“I never thought they would love it as much as they did,” said Rob Marshall.
He passed on his position as center to his son Marshall. However, Marshall soon began playing forward, which was second nature to him. He lived and breathed hockey.
Hockey players are some of the most aggressively tough athletes, mentally and physically. On the ice, Marshall exemplifies this behavior. However, off the ice, he shows a unique dichotomy to this stereotype. The 21-year-old has interests that would shock most of his University of Central Oklahoma fans who are only familiar with him suited-up in the Broncho uniform.
His Instagram is filled with photos portraying a classic, almost Kennedyesque, style that he embraces and personifies. This Cape Cod look does not go unnoticed in Oklahoma, especially on a man who, on the ice, is aggressive and gruff. Maybe it can be attributed to his upbringing.
“We just like to look good,” Marshall concluded.
Marshall explained how he, along with his two brothers and father, would like to open a clothing shop. Given the obvious styles of the Marshall men, it is not a pipedream. Their target audience would be men and they would sell sport coats, dress pants and shirts, the most important fashionable necessities. Marshall channels his businessman approach when he discussed how the fashion line will start out affordable, and they would work their way up from there.
Growing up, Marshall also played baseball, but it held no comparison to the way he felt about hockey. He despised the practices; but with hockey, he enjoyed going to the rink to perfect his skills. Hockey practices cease to be monotonous, as anything can happen. For an hour and 15 minutes every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, UCO’s players make their way to practice at the rink. Each day presents a specific focus Coach McAlister wants them to emulate. On his own, Marshall trains in the gym, totaling seven hours per week. Oddly enough, he still has time for school and sleep.
When asked about any setbacks that have occurred during his hockey career, Marshall discussed how the game is “the luck of the draw.” A player could suffer from a deafening blow during a seasonal game or sit out a few days to heal from a broken finger that happened during a skills practice, which, besides a chipped tooth, is the only minor injury from which Marshall has had to recover.
Marshall played forward on several hockey teams. Through his time playing on Team Illinois, a club hockey organization, he expanded his talent. Since Marshall has played his entire life, he shares unbreakable bonds with many players, some of whom he watched make it to the NHL. All the teams he has been part of have been close-knit, with his teammates getting along well.
“[Bayley] likes to have a great time,” said Tyler Minx, senior defenceman for UCO’s hockey team.
Traveling to different locations (Wisconsin, St. Louis, Alaska and South Dakota) and being a member of a new team can be strenuous on a person, but not for Marshall. He fits in where he is needed, where his team can rely on him. The impression that he treats every practice and every game as an opportunity to be better is recognizable.
“He has a mindset that he will outwork anyone in order to meet his expectation,” McAlister said. “Bayley has the skill and work ethic not only to be one of the best in the WCHL, but the entire ACHA.”
But it is not just about him. Marshall is not the only player shining on the ice. He is a player that makes his teammates shine as well.
“He has the unique ability to make other players around him better,” McAlister noted.
Whenever UCO scores a goal, Marshall delights in being the first to celebrate with his teammates in a tight huddle of helmet-hitting excitement. However, enthusiasm is not the sole feeling hockey players exude on the ice. Brawls commence when the querulous nature of a game is pushed a little too far, which almost every fan loves to witness. Marshall is not a petulant player; he is depicted pulling the suit of his teammate to drag him away from the dispute on multiple occasions, no matter the call made by the ref or the instigating words said by the opposing team. The game must always go on. Hockey is similar to life in that aspect. A person can choose to harp on the trying scenarios of life, or they can keep moving forward. Whether it be a lucky coincidence or grandeur purpose, Marshall’s position is forward.
While Marshall has the natural aptitude and drive to pursue the NHL out of UCO, he does not see himself following that path. That is something the 3-year-old Marshall would have never imagined thinking. However, his father has known that he would not go to the NHL. Playing the role of father and coach can be difficult at times, but Rob Marshall has refrained from pressuring his children. He wants them to pursue hockey as far as they want.
“They and they alone determine their own destiny,” Rob Marshall said.
This ideology has been transferred to Bayley Marshall. Though he loves the sport wholeheartedly, he is aware of his years left in college, his years left of competitively playing.
“I would not be making enough money to make a living without having a job as well,” Marshall said.
The finance major is realistic about where life may take him. Hockey has been Marshall’s life; however, he does not plan on the game making a life for him. He wants to do that on his own. Like any honest college student, Marshall just wants to make some money. Although he has a realistic plan, Marshall is still determining what he wants to make of himself in the business world, where he will put his entrepreneurial abilities to play.
Marshall is rough, yet sleek; a realist, yet an optimist. His complex nature will have any expert analyst’s mind spinning. Can a realist have dreams? If the question was directed toward Marshall, the answer would be “yes.”
Life is taken day by day. Big plans will come for Marshall, but for now, he is still living out his hockey days—celebrating wins and embracing losses. Hockey has taught Marshall a plethora of life skills. Most of all, it has ingrained in him the significance of hard work and self-determination, character traits he will always carry with him.
Moving on from hockey will be bittersweet, but Marshall will have the opportunity to share the appreciation of watching the game with his father, maybe eventually reminisce on celebratory highlights with his future legacy.
UCO was awarded their third WCHL title Feb. 9 after beating OU 6-2. The announcer addressed the excited, thundering fans to come on the home ice and congratulate their players. Marshall rips off his helmet, pure elation envelopes him as he skates around his teammates, hoisting the trophy in the air. He stops for photos, grabbing other players to include in the electronic memories. On the ice, Marshall flashes the “I’m here for a good time” smile.