An Address to the National Champions

Master of Ceremonies’ greeting to Boston College hockey team at its annual Pike’s Peak Club Awards Banquet.

January 21st.  It was a long bus ride home from Orono. Two straight losses, six in the preceding ten games. It was the winter of our discontent.

But now, is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by these sons of York.

Not only do we have the Iliad of Homer to guide us. William Shakespeare is a fan too. And he had Boston College in mind when he wrote, “This story shall the good man teach his son.”

This story – that we’ll retell today – is the marvelous and inspiring tale of the Boston College Eagles, 2011-2012. It will be told as long as ice hockey is played in Boston.

I thank the Pike’s Peak Club for once again allowing me to serve as your Master of Ceremonies. I’ve been around Boston College hockey since 1968, did seven seasons on radio color, and the last 26 as your p.a announcer. In football, it’s been 36 seasons.

Over all that time I’ve felt privileged to be able to play any kind of role in presenting to the world the grand and glorious enterprise that is Boston College sports. I usually speak to you from far away.  This afternoon, we’re face-to-face, and it’s a thrill for me to be here.

And I think that I’ll be doing more than speaking to you. I’ll be speaking for you. And for the 160,000 living alumni of Boston College. And for all those alumni who have gone before us and are now watching with pride from the Second Balcony.

Gentlemen, you’ve brought home to the Heights yet another national championship. You have heard, and heeded, the motto of your University, taken from the words of Homer’s wise man Nestor. You remember!

The Trojan War was going poorly – rather like the hockey season back in January. Nestor comes to the tent and reminds the great warrior Achilles of the teachings of Peleus, Achilles’ father: “Fight ever amongst the foremost. Outvie your peers. Aien aristeuein.”

Ever to Excel. Our motto. Your watchword. All Boston College people aspire to it. You show us how it’s done.

The annual Pike’s Peak Hockey Banquet recognizes and honors the heroes of the present day. We also take this opportunity to remember and salute the memory of many individuals whose names you’ll be hearing in a little while when we present the named awards. They are giants of eras past, and they are still with us as we meet today and celebrate our national championship.

Pike’s Peak, as we know, towers over Colorado Springs. That was almost a second home to Boston College. In the first eight years of the NCAA Championship Tournament at the old Broadmoor World Arena, the Eagles made it five times. The Pike’s Peak Club founders were all players who’d themselves been to that mountain and once, in 1949, made it all the way to the top.

This year, for the third time in five, you’ve scaled that mountain. You stand on top, as national champions. And as a Boston College man, I’m especially proud and grateful to you for doing it this year. It is very important, and most fitting, that a team that represents Boston College achieved a national championship in 2012.

Why do I say that?

This past 12 months or so was not a particularly good time for the world of sports. Some of the news we heard – and continue to hear – ranged from mildly disconcerting to downright distressing. It was everywhere; in professional, college, and high school ranks. Maybe, in some people’s minds, sport wasn’t worth all the attention we pay to it.

And then, along comes Boston College hockey. Banishing the January doldrums and never tasting defeat again. Your victory march did so much to set things right. It’s not only for your fans and the people of your school. It’s for everyone who knows and loves athletic competition. For everyone who values sportsmanship and fair play.

We all know Grantland Rice’s famous line, “When the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, He writes, not that you won or lost, But how you played the game.”

We generally quote Mr. Rice following a gallant try that ends up in defeat. Not this time. It was not that you won. It was how you did it…with speed and grace and skill. But more importantly, with dignity and class.

You’ve restored the faith of the entire sporting world. And now they look to you, just as they looked to Governor John Winthrop’s Boston, the shining City on a Hill. You’ve shown them just what a winner is, what a winner can be, what a winner should be. That winner is Boston College.

To repeat something I said a year ago…Boston College hockey is the gold standard, the acme, the epitome of all that’s best in college athletics. I’m convinced that there is no academic pursuit, no student activity, no administrative function, no alumni undertaking, that can proclaim to the world, as proudly and as surely who we of Boston College are, and what we believe in, as our athletic program. And especially, our hockey program.

Your story is that story which the good man will teach his son. And those sons who don the gold sweater and lace up the skates in years to come will remember it. They’ll strive to meet those standards, both athletic and personal, that you have set. That will be your lasting legacy.

I’ll conclude with a personal note, and an echo of another old favorite. I always dreamed of being a great athlete. Who doesn’t?  But I wasn’t, so I had my heroes. And I want you to know you’re my heroes. You’re everything that I’d like to be.

Because nothing flies higher than an Eagle.

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