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College kids heading back to campus after whirlwind month

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

They’re really understanding and they’re great. They make accommodations for the guys. I’m very thankful for all the help they’ve given me.Bill Arnold on his professors at Boston College

CALGARY, AB -- Last week, Kenny Agostino, Bryce Van Brabant, Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold were throwing on NHL jerseys and lining up against the best players in the world.

They were on chartered planes, training with world-class athletes, and playing hockey was their full-time job.

This week, they'll be back on their respective campuses, hammering away at school work and preparing for final exams.

Such is the life for collegiate players, who are still in the midst of getting their degrees despite signing NHL contracts this spring.

"I fly home tomorrow and I have night class," Arnold, a communications major at Boston College, said in his exit interview. "I might take the option on it tomorrow night, get a little rest."

Schools make the necessary adjustments for players in these types of situations, extending deadlines or altering assignments along with allowing students to work remotely and miss classes when they're away.

Arnold, who is finishing up his last three classes, expressed his appreciation for this kind of flexibility as it allowed him to make his NHL debut on Sunday in Vancouver.

"BC has been great about the whole thing," he said. "With Regionals, we missed four days I think. They’re really understanding and they’re great. They make accommodations for the guys. I’m very thankful for all the help they’ve given me."

Van Brabant, who inked a two-year entry level deal with the Flames after Quinnipiac's season concluded, will be spending a bit more time out on the east coast this summer as he trains for his first full professional season.

"I’ve got the four [classes] I’m in now and two in the summer. I’m just about done," he smiled.

For Agostino, who has been with the team since Apr. 17, he is heading back to New Haven with a boatload of homework to complete.

While trying to manage school work with the day-to-day rigours of playing in the NHL can be difficult to balance, it is worth the effort according to the Yale senior.

"I’ve got a big pile, that’s for sure. The big thing coming back to school this year was to set me up to get a degree.

"Whether I have to take a few summer courses, it’s going to be a lot better than if I left last year. Regardless, I’m going to get the degree within the calendar year I’m sure."

One of the biggest factors Gaudreau took into account when making his decision to turn pro was his degree. He and his family wanted him to be able to complete his degree but believed he was prepared to play at a higher level.

His mother, Jane, was particularly concerned about him leaving school early so while they were running down the pros and cons about him signing with the Flames after his junior year, he told her he would head back to Boston College in the summers to take classes.

"I’ve got four more courses I’ve got to finish this spring. Then I’m going to take two courses this summer. I’m going to go back every summer, workout the first half of the summer and get two classes in every summer for the next three, four years here.

"I'm definitely try and get my degree. That’s really important. That’s one of the promises I made her - if I got the chance to sign, I’d come back and get my degree. She was really supportive."

While he values his education, Gaudreau did admit missing the last week or so of classes was a welcome reprieve.

"I missed about three or four classes, two or three times. It was nice to get away from school for a little bit but I’m going to have a lot of work when I get back. It was a good break."

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