This past weekend the hockey team celebrated their alumni and the history of the University of Delaware Ice Hockey program. The team welcomed all hockey alumni to the rink this weekend as they played against URI. Saturday the alumni got the chance to play back on home ice for two alumni games, and then they gathered to watch the Hens complete a shootout win against the Rams.
I got the chance to pick the brains of some alumni about what it’s like to come back to school, what alumni life is like, and much more. Graduate of the class of 2008, Lou Volpe said, “Being able to see guys that you haven’t seen in a couple years. It’s always good to come back, share comradery, stories, and relive the glory days. Almost all the alumni look forward to this; it’s a good thing to come back to.” Most alumni were in agreeance on this, that it is a great event for everyone to come back to for a weekend. Dan Demasi, of the class of 88, added, “We spent four years here, and spent the last thirty years talking about it because we crack the same jokes and talk about our time like it was yesterday. You don’t wanna miss this weekend because Delaware hockey meant so much to you. The guys I played hockey with are the ones I still keep in touch with from when I went to school here.”
Chris Wagner, class of 77, and Steve McPhee, class of 79, both played for the first Delaware hockey team. The two men told me a handful of stories off the record, but on the record, McPhee said, “Alumni weekend is great because when Chris Wagner and I both played together, we had to pay for everything. Now, obviously it’s not the same kind of money they have to pay now, but we had no alumni; we were the first team. I’m glad we played at the time we did. I’m also glad we’re both in a position to give back to the team.” Wagner added, “We are here to help the kids.”
Some more recent alumni had a little more to say. Ryan Pate, an alum from 2015, said, “Great to be back to support the program, and see all the guys we created a lot of memories with.” Former captain from last season, Leo Skehan, joked, “I wish I still went here,” but he added, “it’s fun coming back to see the boys.” From the class of 16, Joe Bastone said, “It’s great to see everyone back in the same place. It’s good energy and good to come back to support the program.”
Two alumni from the class of 2013, Nick Lepore and SJ Broadt, had some more to say about their time at Delaware and coming back for alumni weekend. Lepore said, “It’s a lot of fun to come back every year, and get together with everyone after going to Delaware. Everyone is from different areas of the country so it’s nice to come here for the weekend, and see everyone for at least a day to have a good time. Delaware hockey, what it meant to me, was a perfect mix of hockey, academics, and realizing I have to be an adult in a couple of years. I met guys that are now in my wedding party. You have friends for life.” Both Nick and SJ mentioned that during their time here, their team won the only national championship the team has in their name. Broadt said, “We created a lot of popularity, and to watch it grow is unbelieveable.” Lepore added, “After playing hockey your whole life, it was pretty cool to win a national championship, no matter how old or level I was at.” Broadt, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday afternoon, said, “My time here was unreal. UD made my life what it is now. Being an alumni and being able to give back to the team that gave me so much is amazing.”
The last alum I spoke to is a man who still plays a big role in the team, is Dave Lombardi, president of the Alumni Association. “The reason why I’ve remained involved is because of the amazing memories I made during my time here. As soon as I graduated, I immediately wanted to start giving back because I owe a lot of my work life and personal life to this program. My life is so influenced by the people here at Delaware, my teammates, and the alumni here before me. It’s always nice to give back, and to come see the team win. With the alumni association, we are building something bigger and hoping to continue to see something great here. Our mission as the alumni association is to create loyalty among former players, and have an environment where all the people can come back to spend time with people that have played and are playing now, and to raise financial stability for the program and it’s future years,” Lombardi said.
As the weekend came to a close, the team got to enjoy the company of the alumni. It was great to see how everyone interacted with one another. The room full of alumni were full of laughs, good stories, and smiling faces. All of the men look forward to next alumni weekend, and wish the team good luck with the rest of the season!
Written By: Analisa Vizzoni