Continuing my comments on the Class of 2016’s senior speeches at the hockey banquet held last May:
Milos Bubela told of how, when he arrived at RPI, he didn’t really know anyone and felt a little lost. Before long, though, with everyone’s support, he found he had a new family. He thanked everyone who supported him through “the bad years and the good years” and gave a special nod to Tera (Associate Athletic Trainer Tera Patenaude). He said he had so many injuries that he was eventually told that he had set a new team record – for visits to the training room! Milos’s infectious grin was present throughout his speech and is one of the things we’ll all miss most about him, along with his tenacious style of play.
Zach Schroeder went next. Sporting a snappy plaid bowtie and matching handkerchief in his pocket, the fifth-year senior would have surely got the award for best-dressed had their been one. His speech was as classy as his outfit, especially when he said that being a student-athlete at RPI had been a great experience – “the people I’ve met, the opportunities I encountered, and yes, the hockey.” He also said that at RPI, “we have one of the best, most loyal, fandoms in college hockey – from students, to residents of Troy, to family members, they stick with us even at our lowest points. Whenever I heard the crowd cheering ‘Red’ during the National Anthem, chills would run down my back because I knew our fans had our backs.” Very eloquently said, Zach.
Jason Kasdorf too spoke of how fast the time went and said that his four years at RPI had been some of the best years of his life. He said when he looks back over those years, the first word that comes to mind is support. Like Zach, he spoke of how “we have some of the best fans in college hockey.” He was, he said, amazed to know that some fans had been following RPI hockey for over 30 years. He added that it’s “extremely humbling” to see how many fans travel to road games and how much pride people have in the program. He thanked Coach Appert at length for believing in him and for all the extra hours he put in helping Jason improve his game. Along with friends and family, Jason also thanked his beautiful wife Stacey, who was present despite being overdue with their first child. He thanked her for all the hard work she put in helping him to earn his degree even though, he pointed out, “sorry, but mine is going to be the only name on it.” Their adorable and equally beautiful daughter Everly was born a few days later.
Last but not least, captain Chris Bradley took the podium. He spoke of how proud he was to be a member of the RPI community, and of all the amazing people he had met along the way. He said the most important thing he learned from RPI hockey was to “never give up on myself, never give up on my teammates, and to embrace every single challenge that you face.” He said he would take those lessons with him in life and own them. Being an Engineer, he said, “is not about you, it’s about being a teammate, it’s about that guy sitting next to you and about being a part of something bigger than yourself.” Well said, Chris.
There were no really emotional guys this year – Chris Bradley would have been my guess, but he held it together pretty well. They were an eloquent group for sure, and it was clear that their experience with RPI hockey meant a lot to them. They are a great group of guys – we wish them well and will certainly miss them. Thank you, RPI hockey class of 2016!