Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - March 14, 2013

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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Page 46 of 62

"I still have a lot of room to develop as a player," Mersch said. "(Each season) you grow a little older.You understand the game better and it slows down a little bit for you.'' bit for you.'' The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Mersch has been compared to Ryane Clowe, a 6-2, 225-pound winger for the San Jose Sharks. One of Mersch's NHL role models was Tomas Holmstrom, now retired. Mersch was exposed to Holmstrom, an All-Star with the Detroit Red Wings, during the two years that he spent with the U.S. National Team Developmental Program in Ann Arbor, Mich. Holmstrom was virtually impossible to displace from the front of the net. "He didn't always score pretty goals,'' Mersch recalled. "But they were goals, and that's all that mattered.'' Back then, Mersch was a quick learner. He graduated a year early from Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, which allowed him to skip an apprenticeship in the USHL and jump directly to Wisconsin. Back then, he learned a very important lesson in sports: how to deal with a slump. In 2008-09, he scored 65 points, including 27 goals, with the U.S. Under-17 team. The following season, he saw his production drop off to 14 points in 49 games against U-18 competition. "I'm not exactly sure what happened,'' Mersch said. "I was still learning, I was still growing, I was still a young kid. I was only 16 at the time and I was still trying to find myself as a person and player. "Maybe I just didn't have the confidence.'' Mersch found some answers in a book entitled "Mind Gym: An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence.'' The author, Gary Mack, offers instructive advice on how to build mental muscle. Mersch jotted down notes in the margins. He thought he had two copies. But he couldn't remember if he had the book in Madison. "I read it awhile back,'' he said. Lately, he hasn't needed it. 47

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