Bittner has been a part of some very successful teams in his post-high school career.
Ryan Bittner - Junior hockey player at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
CHS Class of 2013
Played two years of junior hockey for Winnipeg Blues after high school
Major - Business Admin with Emphasis in Marketing
Career Hopes - Something in Sports
Other CHS Sports - Football and Track
How did you decide to play hockey collegiately?
It’s always been a dream to just keep playing competitive hockey to the highest level I can get. My dad was a college athlete at Iowa State and he always gave me a drive to keep playing and keep getting better. I always had a competitive edge. My brother, Mark, played at Stevens Point before me. I got traded once and I was driving through and he told me the coach wanted to see me. So I met with the coach and we talked with him. All they were doing was winning here and that’s all you want as an athlete. The coaching was great and they had a winning program. It was kind of a no-brainer.
Was is always your plan to play juniors first?
It was always the plan. A lot of people go into juniors before college to get a little more experience. I’m extremely happy to have done juniors before college.
What did you think of the junior hockey experience?
It was a ton of fun. The hockey was really good and the families I lived with were unbelievable. I made a lot of connections through families and people they knew who supported the team. I would love to be able to go back and do it again.
What other schools were you considering?
Augsburg College. I was talking to them pretty heavily and either one would have been a dream to go to. I’m extremely happy and fortunate to be able to be here and do what I’m doing.
Who was your favorite coach in high school?
My dad, Jon.
What did you notice as a big difference between playing in high school and playing in college?
Probably the size. The skill level is obviously higher. Here, the oldest guys are going to be 24 or 25-years-old. They’re men. You’re constantly battling and you just got to be ready and make sure you take care of your body a lot.
What was the father-son experience like on your high school team?
We definitely had that agreement between each other where there’s home father and son talk and then there’s coach talk. We always knew the difference and knew how to handle it. It never really got in our ways. The biggest thing is that I can still talk to him like a coach now. That’s helped a lot of my game.
What was your biggest accomplishment in high school sports?
I’d have to say going to the semifinals with our team my senior year. We had a lot of good, committed guys.
What is your biggest accomplishment in collegiate sports?
In my first year of juniors, we won the league. Then in my first year in college, we won the national championship. Both of those are huge accomplishments. There was a lot to be excited about.
What surprised you at your first college practice?
The way we battle in practice. I used to hate coming to the rinks for practice because I didn’t know what I’d be getting myself into. We’d do 1-on-1 or 2-on-2. You’re always beating up on someone or getting beaten up. It’s always a mission going in there. It took me half a year to figure out that everything we did is what would happen in the games.
What is the atmosphere like on a team that is expected to win?
I think it’s fun. The competitive level even at practices are outrageous. You can put anyone in the lineup and anyone can play. There’s always a constant battle with your teammates. It just makes for a great atmosphere. Everyone wants to win and it works out great.
How do you handle the pressure of playing collegiately?
You don’t really try to think about it and just focus on the game at hand. If you overthink it, it makes it a little harder. You don’t have to think about the pressures of winning and losing.
What is your trick to keep up with classwork and stay consistent in your game?
A lot of planning and a lot of time at the library. We always try to split a room up and get our stuff done. A lot of us our business majors so we can help each other with struggles.
Does playing a sport help you manage your time?
It makes it harder, that’s for sure. I’ve had to learn to manage time, but it’s tough. Right now we’re out of season and I don’t have any class on Fridays. It feels extremely weird to not be getting ready for practice or a game.
What is your daily routine when you're in season?
We had practice at 6:30 a.m., Monday through Thursday. Then two classes every day Monday through Thursday. Then if I’m beat up, sore or just need an ice bath, get into the training room and get all of that taken care of. I finish the nights with an hour to three hours of homework to stay on top of my work. When Friday rolls around, we would skate at 8 a.m. . For home game days, I will go out to eat with a couple guys and then go home, relax, nap and head to the rink. If it’s an away game, I get some Noodles and Company for a snack and then get on the bus and head to the game.
What do you miss about playing in Crookston?
Playing for you hometown. In Steven’s Point, the crowds are fantastic so you do get the home feeling. But playing in high school, you’re playing with all your buddies that you grew up with. The camaraderie with everyone was a blast.
How has playing collegiately helped you prepare for life after school and sports?
I know it’s made me mentally stronger. It definitely broke me a few times. When I first went to juniors, I was on four different teams in about four months. I was not expecting that. It’s definitely helped with hockey and real-life situations.
Going into your senior year, have you given any thought to when your college career comes to an end?
I'm hoping when everything is done with my college career, I have the opportunity to further my career with playing pro hockey. If not, then I’m sure I will be around hockey the rest of my life. I can’t see being away from a rink for longer then a week or so.
How do you plan to stay around the game after college?
After playing competitively, I'm sure I will go to playing in a men’s league wherever I settle down. I hope to possibly one day be able to give back to the game and coach but that’s still hopefully some years out still.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about playing a sport in college?
I’d say go for it. If you’re not sure and you’ll just halfway do it, it won’t be worth your time. Be ready for planning issues.