Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Hall of Fame
Remembering Harvard Athletics
I would like to thank the Harvard Varsity Club for this wonderful honor. It is such a privilege to be here, and I am grateful to be included with all of the great athletes who are being inducted this evening – as well as the talented group of athletes who have preceded us in to the Hall of Fame. I thank Harvard College and the Athletic Department for its continued support of 41 varsity sports, the most of any college in the country. Hockey has a very long and storied history at Harvard. There have been so many tremendous individuals who have worn the Crimson jersey – from Bill Cleary to Joe Cavanaugh to Scott Fusco – I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for making Harvard Hockey special long before I was fortunate enough to become a part of the program. As I prepared my thoughts for this evening, I recognized that this honor must be shared with so many people who played a role in shaping my life before and during my time at Harvard. Whatever successes I had athletically or academically were a direct result of the support of my family, the teachings and support from coaches, trainers and administration, and the tremendous talent and commitment of my teammates.
First, I owe an unpayable debt to my parents who have always been my biggest supporters. They made extraordinary personal and professional sacrifices to provide my brother and me with the best possible educational and athletic opportunities. For two individuals who did not have the opportunity to pursue a traditional college experience while growing up in a small town in Nova Scotia, I can not thank you enough for your commitment to education - whether it was my father who despite the rigors of playing professional ice hockey attended summer school for 14 years to earn his undergraduate and graduate degrees – or my mother who attended nursing school and later became the nurse at my high school for twenty years. You could have chosen many paths after you left the NHL, but you both made the incredibly selfless decision to pursue careers in education and find the the best possible environment for Lowell and me so that we would have the opportunities that you never had. I will never be able to repay what you have done for me, but I will appreciate it forever.
Unfortunately, my older brother, Lowell, is unable to be here this evening as he is working for ESPN producing the Stanley Cup Playoffs. From the day I was born a year and half after you, I was your unavoidable shadow – always trying to keep up with you. The reality is that all I ever wanted to do was to be as good as you. You were my role model, my frequent combatant, and my constant supporter – and I share this honor with you tonight.
I am not sure how I could ever thank Bill Cleary and Ronn Tomassoni sufficiently for all that they have done for me. I will never forget Ronn Tomassoni flying to Milwaukee to watch a practice during my senior year in high school. I am not sure what he saw in me that day, but I can not thank him enough for seeing something that convinced him I could play a role with the Harvard Hockey program. It is hard to properly put in to words the gratitude I feel for Coach Cleary. Coach Cleary is an extraordinary athlete, teacher and coach, but as great as he is in those areas, he is an even better person. He was my coach, my mentor, an inspiration and a true role model. As hockey players at Harvard, we learned so much about life through our hockey experiences. Coach Cleary and Coach Tomassoni taught us about the importance of things like loyalty, commitment, the pursuit of excellence, and an insatiable desire to compete. The amazing thing is that this was all done with the perspective that academics were always the first priority – while mixing in a steady infusion of laughter and fun.
In addition to being fantastic teachers and coaches, Coaches Cleary and Tomassoni were also great judges of character – as they recruited an amazing group of individuals whom I am proud to count as former teammates – and many of whom remain my best friends. From the upperclassmen who taught us what it meant to be a great teammate - to my classmates in the Class of 1988 with whom I will always share a very unique bond – to every single person who wore a Crimson jersey during my tenure in Cambridge, it is each of you that made my experience special. It is so rare in team sports to find a group of individuals who care more about the team than about themselves – and individuals who are committed to making enormous personal sacrifices to achieve a team goal. We had an exceptional group of individuals, and I thank each and every one of you as it was your collective efforts that have led to this honor tonight.
I strongly believe that it is the culture that makes Harvard such an amazing institution, and I would like to thank the wonderful people within the Harvard ‘family’ who create this culture. When I think of the individuals who personify Harvard, I think of Jack Reardon, Fred Jewett, and Fran Toland who have been such great supporters of Harvard Athletics. I also think of the incredible team of doctors, led by Dr. Boland, who were so patient and supportive as I struggled with various injuries during my career, particularly my recurring head injuries. In addition, I would also like to thank Chet Stone, Artie Clifford, Dick Emerson and Jack Kirrane, who tirelessly give so much of themselves to help Harvard athletes on a daily basis. It is the people that make any institution great – and Harvard is truly fortunate to have an extraordinary group of people who continue to give so much of their lives to make it special.
While tonight is a celebration of the past, I feel that it is also our collective obligation to think about the future of Harvard Athletics. I fear that there are trends within the Harvard Administration and the Ivy League that could have a negative impact on the Athletic Department and future student-athletes. While I would never advocate a ‘Big Ten’ approach to athletics, I feel that it is vitally important that the Harvard Administration maintain its historical balance between academics and athletics so that Harvard athletes will have the opportunity to compete at the highest level. I was incredibly fortunate to be a member of the Harvard team in 1989 when we won the NCAA Ice Hockey Championship. Winning the Championship was a great accomplishment for Harvard and the hockey program, but it was just as important in its symbolism for young student-athletes. In the ultra-specialized world in which we live today, young men and women are being forced to decide whether to be a student or an athlete. I feel that Harvard has not only an opportunity, but a responsibility, to be a role model for young student-athletes everywhere. As the pre-eminent academic institution in the world, Harvard is uniquely positioned to send a message to young individuals that one can excel academically and athletically. It is my sincere hope that the Administration will provide the Athletic Department with the institutional support necessary to ensure that future student-athletes will have the same opportunities we enjoyed.
As I conclude, I also want to recognize my beautiful wife, Wendy, for whom I am thankful every day. Even though Wendy wore the red and white of Cornell as an undergraduate hockey player, I believe that we are slowly making crimson her favorite shade of red. To our children Ben and Cate, I can only hope that you will some day have the opportunity to be as blessed as I was during my four years in Cambridge. Harvard College and Harvard Hockey have provided me with a lifetime of lessons and extraordinary opportunities – I will always be grateful. Thank you.`