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The Best of Both Worlds

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Adjusting to the academic demands of an Ivy League school is tough enough for a college freshman.


Kenny Agostino during his freshman year at Yale.
Pair that with making the jump to Division I hockey from the New Jersey private school league, and this past year was certainly filled with growing pains for Penguins prospect Kenny Agostino.

But you won’t find him complaining.

“It’s just the best of both worlds for me,” said the Yale sophomore. “I realize that there is life outside of hockey. When you get a Yale education that’s really second to none, it really gives you a bright future. Then the hockey program is top in the country at this point, so I couldn’t be happier with where I am right now.”

Of course, Agostino is the first to admit it wasn’t easy adjusting to life away from home – both in on the ice and in the classroom.

Calling it a “tough transition,” the Flanders, N.J. native used his teammates as a support system as he navigated through his first semester.

“That was really the key for me in transitioning,” Agostino said. “Obviously Yale’s a pretty academically demanding school, so they help you figure it out and they teach you about organization. You really have to be practical in order to be successful.”

Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald also credited Agostino’s coaches with giving their young freshman forward the time and support he needed to get situated.

Kenny Agostino at the 2011 U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y. (Nancie Battaglie, USA Hockey)
“It’s not that normal to jump from high school hockey to Division I hockey,” Fitzgerald said. “Basically, that’s what he did. I give his coach Keith Allain a lot of credit. They plugged him in here and there and he got some games. They had him watch a lot of film and just gradually brought him along, which I think is a great development tool for young kids. Allain did a really good job of protecting this young kid and look at the benefits. Look what happened.”

What happened was that Agostino scored three goals and five points in his first game back after the winter break – the most by a Bulldogs rookie since 1980 – and was named Yale’s rookie of the year after leading all first-year players with 11 goals and 25 points through 30 games.

The Bulldogs also went on to complete the best season in program history, finishing with a 28-7-4 overall record and falling just a game short of the Frozen Four.

“I went home for Christmas break and I just kind of looked back on the first half of my season and looked at what I could work on,” Agostino said of his explosive second half. “And I was just really excited to get back. I was able to figure it out when I got back and I really just took that second half of the season in stride.”

It’s just the best of both worlds for me. I realize that there is life outside of hockey. When you get a Yale education that’s really second to none, it really gives you a bright future. Then the hockey program is top in the country at this point, so I couldn’t be happier with where I am right now. - Kenny Agostino, on playing hockey at Yale
While Agostino may have it figured out on the ice, he’s still debating on what he’d like to do academically.

The 19-year-old doesn’t need to declare a major until the end of his sophomore year, so he has plenty of time. And while he’s leaning towards political science because of the versatility that would offer him in terms of career choices, Agostino is also considering going into finance like his father, Ken Sr.

And since all Yale students must take three semesters of a foreign language, Agostino is also dabbling in not French or Spanish, but Indonesian.

“We do this thing at Yale called ‘shopping period’ where you get to try out different classes,” he said. “I went to check it out and the professor was so nice and down to earth. He gave me a little warm-up, and it’s a real basic language. It’s interesting.”

In the meantime, no matter what he decides to pursue, Agostino is ready to continue the hard work required to be successful at everything he does.

“It’s definitely difficult,” he said. “It’s a battle all year long. You really don’t have any free nights. But it’s definitely worth it. I was fortunate enough to be on the All-Academic team, so my hard work definitely paid off and I enjoyed every minute of it.”

While his immediate plans seem to be all mapped out, Agostino admitted to glimpsing further into his future.

“It’s hard to not think about the possibilities of being able to one day put on that Penguins uniform,” he said.

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