Column: Far from home, two Alaskans find comfort in each other.

by Casey Diana
edited by Robbie Sequeira

A 12+ hour travel day including multiple flights, over 4,000 miles and a four hour time difference separates you from your tight-knit family and hometown. Now, add in being a student-athlete.

(Photo: Marisa Ketterman)

Sound stressful? It is. But two Alaskans from the same hometown have found a second home in Rindge, and they attribute a lot of their comfort to each other.

“I can’t even remember when or how we met… I’m assuming it was through hockey at a very young age,” said one. “I second that. It was ages ago,” agreed the other.

Marisa Ketterman left her small “water tower town” of Palmer, Alaska when she was a senior in high school, opting to spend her last year at Gilmour Academy in Ohio. Gilmour offered a new look at the world, and a better chance of being recruited to play college hockey.

“I’m used to being away from home without friends because I did it at Gilmour and my first year here, but it definitely would have been more comforting having some from home with me,” said Ketterman. “They just understand you better. It’s nice having someone from home here because they understand the struggles of the long flights, and not being able to see the mountains or the northern lights anymore.”

Sara Diltz had never left Palmer for more than a couple weeks before her freshman year of college. However, the idea of seeing the other side of the country and having the chance to join long-time family friend Marisa Ketterman on a college hockey team was too much to pass up.

“I knew that there was someone here that was familiar and safe. Someone I could go to if I was homesick” said Diltz. “It was nice that we knew the same people and could talk about them if one of us got updated with news the other didn’t hear.”

“She understands the struggle of not having Alaskan food here,” said Ketterman. When their families arrived in Rindge for their Senior Night on February 17th, they brought reindeer sausage and moose sticks.

The two, called “Alaska” and “Pickle” by their teammates, can often be found together. They are housemates, teammates, and go on frequent coffee runs together.

“I love that she’s there to joke about Alaskan things with me, like moose and penguins,” said Diltz.


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