Writer: Juliana Iglesias | Photo Credit: Matt Ricciardi
This semester saw Coach Steve Hyjek's 100 victory working with our Men’s Club Ice Hockey Team. To commemorate this momentous occasion, we're sitting down with Coach Hyjek to look back at how far they have come over the years.
Coach Hyjek is no stranger to Ice Hockey, in fact he coached for various clubs and high schools for more than 18 years before he began in the collegiate level.
In 2009, a Mason Alumnus and a former player of his, Andrew Rudzinski, invited him to join Mason - and the rest is history! When he arrived, he found a small team - one that was low on funds, but full of motivated players who loved the game. These players didn’t mind the mismatched uniforms or lack of supporters they had in their early days.
It was his time working with those passionate students that drove him to set his goal, to create not just a team, but a program: “A team is just a snapshot,” says Hyjek, “but a program lasts and evolves”.
He sought to create a lasting environment for his players, that not only supported the school, but the community as well. Over the years they've evolved into a much larger team, one with matching uniforms who fill the stands for each game and regularly raise money for the community.
As the team improved under Hyjek’s leadership, they were able to find sponsors to build their budget, recruit quality players, and procure better equipment. All the while actively fundraising, not only for themselves, but for the community around them.
Their dedication to the community is commendable, this year alone they raised $22,000 for CAMMO (the Center for American Military Music Opportunities) and each year they host an annual alumni game where all proceeds go to charity.
“It’s wonderful to be recognized for it, but I know I had a lot of other coaches with me and players that worked really hard and went out on the ice, I’m just a symbol,” says Hyjek.
Coach Hyjek would like everyone to know that the students in the Men’s Ice Hockey Club love the game, representing their school, and supporting their community. "None of this would’ve been possible if these students and coaches didn’t do their part. They all work tirelessly from August to March and pay their dues out of their own pockets to support our school and play the game they love.”
To this coach, everyone who passes through the program is part of his extended family. The lasting relationships he’s formed with them, and the relationships they’ve formed with each other, are the most rewarding aspect of his 9 years here. This program was a group effort and they “value the history of the people who stepped onto the ice before them”. To show this during their 30th anniversary celebration, they recognized by name the 200 + students that have been a part of their team.
“I couldn’t be more proud to be part of Mason hockey,” says Hyjek.
It would mean the world to him, and his team, if the Mason community would support them, as they support us, and attend a game or visit their website: gmuicehockey.com.
Here's to another 100 Victories!