Reflecting on my Yale career, it would have been really easy to focus on winning the National Championship 4–0 over our friends over in Hamden (oops) my freshman year, but that does not represent all of what I will remember about Yale hockey. Many people, even myself sometimes, seem to forget that the 2012–13 season was only a fourth of a journey I will recall so fondly for a very long time.
Coming to Yale as a freshman, I’ll always remember the moment I met my first teammate, Charles Orzetti ’16. For those of you that don’t know Orzetti, I would simply say that he has a “strong personality.” I, on the other hand, arrived at school a shy 6-foot-4 beanpole barely over 200 pounds, and there I was introducing myself to another “freshman” — one who was almost two years older than me, 20 pounds heavier than me and with a beard that actually covered most of his face (unlike anything I can still attempt to grow to this day). I was fortunate enough to survive to the point where I realized Zetti — who became the “Fireman” and my bus buddy — was just a big soft goof and one of my seven best friends on campus.
The “Dynamic” class of 2016, as we like to call ourselves, was born that day and we didn’t even think about shooting a puck, singing “Mr. Jones” after a win or living through a hung Sunday morning lift and skate for a second.
I don’t think I will ever be able to imagine my Yale experience without the privilege of trekking to Ingalls Rink almost every day to play hockey. I mean no offense to the Yalies who do not play sports, because I admire my “Normie” pals for being able to make friends without being placed in a locker room with the same 26 people every single day, but I figure I wouldn’t have had a small fraction of the fun (because I wouldn’t have gotten in) during my time at Yale if it wasn’t for being a part of the hockey team.
My Yale experience, on and off the ice, has been shaped by my being a Yale men’s ice hockey player. Despite the groans that statement may cause, I know deep down in the bottom of my heart I would not have the same love for Yale as I do right now if my experience had been centered around anything else. Being a Bulldog not only presented me with the chance to pursue my dream of playing professional hockey, but also provided me with experiences like playing at Madison Square Garden, making the NCAA tournament three out of four years, winning three Ivy League Championships, losing only twice to Harvard in 15 meetings and obviously beating Qpac only once (when it counted) with my best friends on campus.
What solidified college being the stereotypical “best four years of my life,” however, were the times off the ice I got to share with my teammates. To name only a few: battling until 2 p.m. on Sundays, playing an irrational amount of sewerball, clowning at 380 Crown Castle, voting on the “guttiest” things, perfecting open bars, spamming the panlist, anchoring the Bullpen, fining the freshmen, telling Mitch Witek ’16 he smells bad, holding buddy’s talks, running the stairs at Ingalls, crashing Anthony Day’s ’15 car, beating the women’s soccer team in soccer, racing before Spring Fling, grinding through ropes courses, laughing at all of Dan O’Keefe’s ’17 jokes, winning on Saturdays at home and so very many more things that made Yale as incredible as it was for me.
It was these things that made putting on my Yale jersey everyday feel like the icing on the cake instead of the actual cake, and I already miss it all beyond the description of words.
So here’s a big thank you to everyone who actually read past all those inside jokes up there, and who have been a part of not only my Yale hockey experience, but also my Yale experience as a whole. It changed my life in all the greatest ways possible, and it’s still crazy to think it’s over. I will forever be enthusiastic, hard-working, disciplined, relentless and united thanks to Yale hockey, and I plan on carrying on those qualities through the rest of my life.
ROB O’GARA is a senior in Saybrook College as well as a two-time All-American for the Yale men’s ice hockey team and a current member of the Providence Bruins. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .