By LYNETTE HAALAND
Four Points News
Meg Hildner, 2021 Vandegrift graduate, finished her first season as a D1 athlete
playing ice hockey at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
“The experience of playing such a unique sport has really given me a greater appreciation and joy for hockey,” Hildner said. “From all the long car rides to all the late night practices, it has taken a lot of sacrifice and support from so many people in order to turn this into a reality.”
Hildner – the daughter of Christina Bennett and Thomas Hildner and a Four Points resident since she was 3-years-old – participated in many sports growing up including soccer and swimming but settled on ice hockey to play at the next level.
She accepted a NCAA D1 scholarship to play hockey a year ago and is the second hockey player (male or female) from the Austin and surrounding area to ever have been offered a D1 position and scholarship. She was the first player who went through the travel leagues in Austin, said her dad Tom Hildner.
“It means so much to know that I have the opportunity to continue to play ice hockey at such a high level,” she said.
Her first season at Rensselaer Polytechnic started mid September and ended mid February. The team had an overall record of 9-23-0.
Hildner played 16 games and had one assist at post, four penalties for eight minutes, five shots on goal and six blocked shots, 22 faceoff wins, and season high of two blocked shots at Princeton University.
“It was lots of fun, definitely some ups and downs for sure as a lot of people probably experience, but overall I have liked it a lot,” said Hildner, who is a mechanical engineering major.
Before Rensselaer, Hildner spent four years with Dallas Stars Elite, a team that won the Rocky Mountain district championship each season. She was part of the 2019 High School National Champion with Team Texas.
Coach Jon Staples shared that her dedication reveals the type of player she is. She commuted to Dallas for four seasons and “that in itself indicates her commitment to developing and to her team.” He noted that she worked extremely hard on and off the ice to improve. “RPI is extremely fortunate to attract a player of Meg’s caliber.”
Growing up with two brothers helped instill a fiery competitive drive in Hildner while shining on and off the ice.
She attended Vandegrift and all four years played soccer and as a starter one year. Her soccer team played in the state final last spring. Hildner was also an Academic All-State and Academic All-District student athlete at VHS.
These days she enjoys watching hockey on the world stage including the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. She also was glued to the hockey competitions during the 2022 Olympics.
“It’s certainly exciting to see the game grow on such a big stage,” Hildner said.