Andrew Volkening, a standout goalie for the Air Force Academy’s hockey team, has recently become part of the San Antonio community as a resident of the Brooks City Air Force Base.
While the military comes first in his life, hockey has always run through his veins. Upon his arrival, he entered training camp with the San Antonio Rampage in hopes of obtaining a roster position.
“I started on the ice when I was three years old,” said Volkening. “I had an older brother that skates and the local club was having a free learn-to-skate program, so I tagged along and loved it.”
However, his true love for the game did not develop until he was eight years old, when he had his first chance at being a goaltender.
“My team didn’t really have a goalie; we were just kind of rotating. I asked my Dad if I could, but he was really against it. He told me if I wanted to do it, he would just take me out by the garage and throw rocks at me,” said Volkening.
After much begging and pleading, he was able to convince his father to give him a shot. Volkening recalls his first chance in the net. “I got in there and I think I cried my first time. I let in like 12 goals on eight shots, but I loved it so I stuck with it.”
His mentality and perseverance is what took him from that moment to becoming one of the most decorated Air Force Academy netminders. Showered with many awards and accomplishments, he humbly replied, “My biggest accomplishment wasn’t even having anything to do with hockey. It was just graduating. It was a tough four years.”
While graduating is nothing short of an achievement, Volkening had much to be proud of during his career at the Air Force. He was twice elected Most Valuable Player by his teammates, selected to the First-Team All-American Hockey Association team and the NCAA East Regional All-Tournament team.
He set new Academy records with 28 wins in a season, 1.97 goals against average, and a .920 save percentage. He recorded a career-high 49 saves vs. Mercyhurst on March 6, 2008, while also tallying 11 career shutouts that same season. Volkening was only one of two players to play every minute of every game during the 2008-09 season.
His prior success makes him a great candidate to take a shot at making the Rampage roster. He realizes that competing at the next level will present new challenges. At the professional level, he said, “The speed of the shots is a lot faster. You have to be sharper more often and be more consistent from shot-to-shot.”
He plans to combat this difference with his skill and his size, which he claims as his biggest asset in the net. “I try to use my size out there and positioning to do most of the work,” Volkening said.
While the Rampage have three goaltenders signed, he is hoping to be able to assist the team in any way possible, even if it is just in an emergency goaltender situation.
Volkening starts his new job this Thursday as a behavioral scientist at Brooks City Air Force Base and will be stationed in San Antonio for the next two years. He comes from a military family, with both his brother and father serving our country, and one day he hopes to have his shot at making the starting roster for the Rampage.