To the Editor:
Some of the fondest memories of my life so far were the eight years I had the privilege of being the Head Coach for the Muhlenberg College Ice Hockey Club. I was asked to become their coach at the end of the 2004/2005 season. Muhlenberg won the GNCHC League Championship that year and the club was flourishing.
The first thing I did was to bring my good friend and fellow coach Bill Nixon on board. Together, we envisioned growing the program and hopefully gaining the respect of the college and Athletic Department. In the early years, Coach Bill and I attended many college hockey showcases and recruited some fine young men to come to Muhlenberg.
At one point, we had at least 25 players. On Friday nights, the rink was packed with students and family members to watch their team. It wasn’t just a game, it was an event. Twice during those eight years, the team made the GNCHC finals only to come up short.
One of the great memories I have is when my wife passed after a lengthy battle with cancer during the summer of 2011, many former players and most of the current team showed up at her memorial service wearing their Mules jerseys. That memory will live in my heart forever.
As the years went by, it became increasingly hard to recruit. Tough academic standards and rising tuition made it difficult to get new players. However, Bill and I, along with coach Howard Unrue, continued to reach out to prospective student/athletes. Bill and I even met with College officials to see if anything could be done to help. Our meeting fell on deaf ears.
I knew at the beginning of the 2013/2014 season I would be retiring from my full time job soon and moving to Hawaii. Late in that season, Coach Bill had some serious health issues that led to him retiring as a coach at the end of the season. By the end of May, I knew Hawaii was calling so I decided to retire after eight seasons and Unrue assumed the head coach position.
I’m not sure what has happened since and I was so sad to read the story, but not totally surprised. Those eight years were the highlight of my hockey life and I consider all my former players friends. I hope in time, the club will come back. I could go on and on with my story. Instead I’ll end with GO MULES!! God Bless everyone who reads this.