"Always An Eagle" is a new series written by Boston College senior student-athletes, many of which have seen their seasons end prematurely due to COVID-19. This edition is written by men's hockey captain David Cotton.
Coming to Boston College as a freshman was a dream come true for me, seeing so many greats excel at a school full of tradition inspired me to do the same. The history is in the name when it comes to BC. As a hockey player, the one thing you associate with Boston College is championships, and that’s what I wanted to bring back to the Heights.
My previous three seasons had ended early in heartbreak. We had lost in the Hockey East Championship Game twice, lost in the Beanpot Final, been the first team out of the NCAA Tournament twice, and I had yet to get a taste of what it was like to perform on the national stage. The senior class that I am privileged to be a part of has had our hearts ripped out of our chest one too many times, and this was the year we were going to change the narrative.
This year’s team had a different feel – a different swagger about us. We would come to the rink, work hard, have fun, and that would translate into the weekend. It didn’t matter who we were playing, we were confident in one another and that we were going to win on any given night. I think that was evident especially after a couple of marquee wins with a home-and-home sweep of Notre Dame, and who could forget the 10-1 win against Northeastern.
But I am not writing this trying to plead my case for myself or our team destined to make a tournament run. I am writing this because there are a number of people who made my experience at Boston College the best four years of my life.
To the Coaches – Coach York, Coach Ayers, Coach Buckley and Coach McInnis:
Thank you all so much for being role models in my life and teaching me what it really means to be a good person. Offering up your time to help guide and mold me to become the best version of me. I cannot thank you all enough for giving me this opportunity to become the best hockey player and person that I can be. Coming to the rink every day was a true privilege knowing that I would be learning from the best coaching staff in college hockey. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Coach York, you trusted me with being the Captain for my senior year, a spot I have never been in and I appreciate all of the faith you had in me. It pushed me to be better and that’s what you do with all of your players, make them better. I am incredibly lucky to have a Hall of Fame caliber coach like you to have as a mentor. I loved every minute while at Boston College and I can’t thank you for that.
Coach Ayers, your ability to keep things loose or get us fired up is second to none. I knew if I was coming to the rink you would be there to make us better people, not just hockey players, and wanted to thank you for my past four years.
Coach Buckley, thank you for giving me the confidence to be my own player. You helped me find my feet and never let me settle. Thank you for all of the hard work you have put in to make myself and the team better.
Finally, Coach McInnis, thank you for being someone that I could always ask questions to no matter how ridiculous. You were always someone I could lean on when I was going through a drought and would always push me if I was playing well. Thank you.
To the Support Staff – Russ DeRosa, Bert Lenz, Patrice Bouzan, John Hegarty, Alastair Ingram, and Iggy Tarajos:
You all are the true heroes and all the student-athletes at school know this. You all are here for our aid and don’t ask for anything in return and I cannot thank you all enough for all of the guidance you have given me.
Whether it be with Russ training all year and in the summer turning a lanky freshman into a still lanky but not as bad senior I am today. Or Bert for always being there ready to help me rehab the latest bump or bruise I would have after a weekend series. Patrice, thank you for guiding me through college and helping me with class tutors, scheduling, and being there when I needed you.
Hags, you are the heartbeat of the hockey team and I want to thank you for all of the hard work you do, even back to freshman year when you sharpened our skates with rocks in the back room. On a serious note though, you do all of the dirty work to ensure that all of the guys get everything they need and I know it is not easy tending to 30 college boys.
Alastair, thank you for become a huge part of the BC family by making me look better on social media. I know that’s a tall order but you do a great job and we’re lucky to have you. Finally, to Iggy, thank you for being on top of all things equipment all of the time. Adding you to the locker room was awesome from the laughs to making sure I was comfortable in all my equipment.
To the Team:
You all made my experience the best it could be. The senior class of Mike Merulla, Ron Greco, Luke McInnis, Graham McPhee, Julius Mattila, Jesper Mattila, Connor Moore, Ben Finkelstein, Zach Walker, Ryan Edquist, Cam Wolbach, and though you weren’t here this year Joe Woll. You guys are like brothers to me and I can’t thank you all enough for the endless memories and friendships you have all offered me.
It hurts to write this because I wish we were all still in 2150 sitting around the table playing cards or making a little Sunday dinner. This team was special and I think we all could feel it, but I think only the people inside the locker room could really feel how special this team is. I want to thank everyone for coming to the rink every day ready to work and have fun doing it.
I know the way the season ended is unsettling, but to all of the underclassmen, carry the momentum to next year because I know you can win it all. This was by far the most talented group I have been a part of and many will go on to have successful pro careers as long as you keep playing with the same energy and excitement we did this past year.
I could ramble forever about what this school means to me but the people are what really make BC its own. Thank you Boston College, I am Always An Eagle.