Umass Lowell River Hawks: Role Models for my Boys


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It all started out innocent enough.

Local elementary school hosts a student night at a neighboring city’s college hockey game.  Local family decides to attend.

As it turns out, this was a playoff game.  The Hockey East Quarterfinals to be exact, and potentially, a series clinching game at that.  One that would send the local boys onto the semifinals being held at the TD Garden in Boston, MA — home of the Boston Bruins.  The point is that this was a huge game for the home team, the Umass Lowell River Hawks.

The team in blue whose fans rally behind the phrase “code blue,” and show it as much in team apparel and social media alike.  A code representative of team whose work ethic and resiliency are arguably second to none.  A team of role models for my boys.

Backing up a little bit, the fix was in from the beginning for my family.  My wife works at this elementary school and has connections within.  Connections that conveniently put us in the front row for what might go down as the “awesomest game ever” and may have changed the sports’ dynamic in our household forever.

Since that night, it’s been more like watching the awesomest team ever.

There is simply nothing better than watching hard work, passion, and effort play out (and pay off) right in front of your eyes.  Seeing it done by a bunch of kids who haven’t been tarnished by contract negotiations, collectively bargaining agreements, or sponsors is even more rewarding.

To be honest, as someone who has been an enormous fan of professional hockey his entire life, and only JUST got into college hockey, I’m finding it hard to watch the pros right now.  All I want to do is watch these kids play with the heart and desire I see from buzzer to buzzer every single game.  Heart and desire that somehow come in second to their utter love for the game and pure joy they get from playing it.  An attitude that is very much in line with the second rule I have for my sons when playing organized sports — have fun with your teammates.  What better way for me to further that lesson than to introduce them to a bunch of kids who are doing exactly that?

My first rule? – listen to your coach.

And what I’ve learned about this team since we’ve started following them is that the players buying into coach Norm Bazin’s system has everything to do with the incredible turn around of an organization that notched just 5 victories two seasons ago.

Not only that, “Bazin’s impact has also carried over to the classroom – the team currently has a composite grade point average of 3.096 as 15 players have maintained a cumulative grade point average at or above a 3.000.” (Source: UMass Lowell’s Bazin Named Spencer Penrose Division I Coach of the Year)

The same Norm Bazin who was read his last rites 10 years ago after it was thought he wouldn’t survive his car being slammed into by a drunk driver the afternoon before Thanksgiving.  I get all choked up just typing this as such stories are way too infrequent these days.  The story of struggling hockey team that makes an incredible turn around and reaches the Frozen Four for the first time in school history under the guidance of a tragedy surviving coach who preaches the importance of hard work and never giving up, both on and off the ice.

Both for himself and his students.

An attitude and approach that has the Umass Lowell River Hawks off to the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh, PA and about to compete for their first ever NCAA College Hockey Championship.

What more could I ask for from a team, from an organization, when trying to raise two boys who show many signs of becoming student athletes themselves?


Brad the Dad can be reached at bradmarmo@gmail.comfound on: Twitter|Facebook|Pinterest


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Enjoy a unique, fresh and entertaining perspective on parenting as Brad the Dad learns what it takes to raise 2 boys in today's world. #DadsRT co-founder.

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  1. Robert Loftus says:

    Great post, I remember us all saying we would go to college games instead on NHL because of the strike, yet you were the only one to follow through on it! I interned for a professional team and always brought up partnerships with local schools to get a new generation of fans in the seats. It was all about money & they never went for it. I should go to more college games as its a smaller and more fun environment for all the fans.

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