Coach Bernstein shares a few notes of thanks and appreciation with the VU Hockey community to kick off the 2013 holiday season.
Dear Vanderbilt Hockey faithful,
As we sit and digest our respective Thanksgiving dinners this evening surrounded by family, friends, and football, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who makes up the Vanderbilt hockey community – parents, coaches, alumni, administrators, fans, volunteers, and especially our players – for all that you do for our program.
In the summer of 2010 I had the serendipitous fortune of responding to a job posting advertising a volunteer coach role with the club. Despite knowing virtually nothing about the team, league, or players, I submitted my name for consideration because I wanted to do two things – (1) rediscover my love for the game, a passion that had been on the shelf for most of my time living in New York City and while attending business school at Vanderbilt, and (2) work with high-performing young people with strong leadership profiles who are aiming for big careers in finance, technology, and other industries.
Fast forward three and a half years later, I can say with absolute certainty that I have fulfilled those goals and then some. My commitment to the program has been one of the great joys of my life and something that I will always look back on with satisfaction and pride. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this special tradition that we have all inherited.
On that note, there are a few things I am thankful for regarding this year’s VU Hockey team that I thought I would use this forum to share. Borrowing a Letterman-esque Top-10 format, here’s the countdown. I am thankful for …
- Chick-fil-A. For providing sound nourishment to Vanderbilt hockey players since 1976. Delicious.
- Freshman Andrew Dellapina’s musical range. Andrew demonstrated his karaoke prowess by belting out Taylor Swift’s “21” followed immediately by Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid” during a recent road trip. It was like watching a young Brenden Oliver (VUH ’12) in action.
- The silky smooth skill of Mr. Zach Satin. It is the rare hockey player who can make a spin-o-rama look like a pirouette while having his teammates cheer him on in awe from the bench.
- The referees overlooking an untold number of elbows and cross-checks by freshman defenseman Nick “The Hulk” Honkala. This in addition to the ones they did call. Yes, there were a lot of penalties, but as Mickey Andrews said of his 1990s Florida State football defenses, “You gotta live on the edge sometimes.” Nick, keyword in that statement: “sometimes.”
- Learning a lesson about underestimating an opponent. Heading into our Saturday game versus Life University, the boys assumed we would be playing a lesser team in the second of three tilts of our weekend trip. Well, as is often the case with assumptions, we ran into a buzz saw versus Life (a graduate university for chiropractic students). I distinctly remember watching their players enter the facility and thinking, “My God, these guys are men!” The thrashing we took in that third period will stick with the boys and me for quite a while.
- Club President Jack Delehey organizing the club’s first merchandising campaign. Thanks to the help of the chronically injured yet endlessly positive four-year starter, scores of Vanderbilt hockey fans and players across the globe will be outfitted with officially licensed VU hockey “swag” come Christmas time. Interested in scoring your own gear? Email Jack (firstname.lastname@example.org), he’ll take care of you.
- Goalie Bo Korpman having the opportunity to take a face-off, log his first road win, and notch his first ever shutout, all in the same weekend. As part of the Georgia Tech club’s “Lt Tyler Brown Night” which honored a GT alumnus who was killed in Iraq in 2004, Bo gladly agreed to take the ceremonial face-off on behalf of Vanderbilt. He then proceeded to shut out GT for 55 minutes en route to a 5-1 victory. He followed that with a Sunday shut-out versus Georgia 4-0.
- John Longman’s laser in overtime versus the Florida Gators. In a must-win game versus a top-10 team and SEC East rival, freshman John Longman concluded a virtuoso performance in regulation by rifling a slap shot home from the blue line just 14 seconds into overtime to seal the victory.
- Our amazing coaches. Coach Holston, Coach Kanouff, and the newest addition to our staff Coach Rice have been the linchpins for the club’s organization and success this season. I have appreciated everything that these guys volunteer in terms of enthusiasm, passion, and general knowledge about the game. The boys and I are lucky to have them aboard.
And the number one thing I am thankful for from the Fall 2013 semester …
- Support from the Nashville hockey community. We are so blessed to be in a hotbed of hockey enthusiasm and support. (Yes folks from the Northeast and Midwest, people are rabid about the game in these parts!) We are enormously thankful for our friends at Penalty Box Radio (@PenaltyBoxRadio) who have covered the team’s latest updates (thanks Stan!), managed our public address responsibilities at games (thanks Justin!), and tended to injured players (thanks Big Ben!). We’d also like to thank Pete Weber (@PeteWeberSports), a luminary figure in the Nashville hockey community who has been nice enough to support our efforts from the very first meeting of our 2013/14 season. Finally, we’d like to thank Andee Boiman and her team at the Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) for helping us build towards a more sustainable future for our program. (More on this to follow in next year’s message … !)
It remains my tremendous pleasure to interact with the players, coaches, administrators, volunteers, parents, and every other person associated with this great organization. On behalf of my wife Betsy (a.k.a., Mrs. Coach) and me, have a happy remainder of your Thanksgiving holiday and a wonderful 2013 holiday season. We look forward to making 2014 a phenomenal one for this hockey family!