It's been a little over a week now since Jerry York and the Boston College men's hockey team brought home the school's fifth National Championship and third in the last five years. It's been a truly remarkable run for the program. I sincerely hope Frank Spaziani, Steve Donahue and Gene DeFilippo are paying close attention to the college hockey dynasty that York has built on the Heights. Both the football and men's basketball programs can learn a thing or two from Coach York.
This is part four of a five-part series examining five key takeaways that Boston College football and basketball can take from the Eagles National Championship men's hockey program. Leave your own thoughts in the comments section.
Leverage the Boston Pro Sports Community, Continuity and Connectedness
Not only has York exhibited a mastery of the non-conference schedule but he's also a brilliant motivator. He has managed to bring in some big, big names to talk to the team at key points during the season. For each guest speaker, the message is the same.
"Over the past few years, York is a big believer in continuity and connectedness, which is why he'll bring back former stars such as Brian Gionta to talk to his team.
"Once an Eagle, always an Eagle,'' reads the sign in the dressing room hallway. York also invites in local professional coaching icons such as Bill Belichick, Doc Rivers, and Terry Francona to share time-tested verities - trust and accountability, teamwork and togetherness, hard work and consistency.
"They brought some uniqueness to it,'' says York, who takes notes on the talks and keeps them in a binder. "They've been spellbinding.''
What the Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox have in common are championship rings, which is what York habitually stresses to his players. The best student-athletes graduate and they win titles.
Think back to how York is able to leverage his connections with former players and with the city's pro sports franchises. Over the past few seasons, he has brought in the Patriots' Bill Belichick, the Celtics' Doc Rivers and the Red Sox's Terry Francona to speak to the team. I'd argue that these relationships with the pro sports teams are incredibly important to maintaining a high level of success and helping to motivate the team.
Contrast that with the tired athletics department mantra that Boston College sports can't succeed because we play in a "pro sports town." I'm not suggesting that if Spaz can bring in these same coaches to talk to the team that the football program will miraculously turn things around, but I do think there is something to be said for establishing and leveraging these connections with Boston's pro sports teams.
Shouldn't the school be doing more with Fenway Sports Group? Why doesn't the basketball program do more with the Celtics? The football program with the Pats? Baseball with the Sox? Boston is one of the country's greatest sports towns but it seems to go under-utilized when it comes to connecting with the pro sports teams and leveraging those relationships to better the program. A lot more can be achieved in this space for sports other than men's hockey.