I just saw the news that my longtime coaching partner at Cornell, Benny Syer, won the Terry Flanagan Award recognizing a top Assistant Coach in NCAA Hockey. A lot of people are retweeting and writing little notes on Twitter about this incredible accomplishment…but for me 280 characters isn’t nearly enough to share what I feel about this man.
I came into coaching at Cornell with virtually no experience, having only been a graduate assistant for one year at Miami (Ohio). I couldn’t have asked for a better partner to show me the ropes for what it meant to be a College Hockey coach. And not just a coach…but also a mentor, friend, brother, confidant, and even father figure.
Simply, Benny Syer is one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever met. I honestly can’t think of another person I know who works as hard or cares so deeply about others. If I ever needed anything, Benny was the rock that I would turn to.
If I needed a laugh, I would go to Benny (he’s fricken hilarious, fricken eh). If I needed advice, I would go to Benny. If I needed a hug, I would go to Benny. I knew that he always had my back and always had my best interest at heart…and that goes for anybody that has ever crossed paths with him.
Many will never understand the bond that is created between two Assistant Coaches that work together. I talked to Benny more than I talked to my wife. And those conversations with him are truly what I miss the most about coaching.
The conversations at 2:00 am when one of us needed to stay awake while driving on the road recruiting. The conversations where we’d spend over an hour talking ourselves in and out of offering a player a spot with our program. The conversations about life that never involved hockey and made me a better person.
I am so happy to hear that Benny is finally getting recognized for this prestigious award. After watching Brent Brekke, another one of my mentors, receive it a couple years ago…I knew that the same attributes Brekks had would eventually land Benny this award. At a time where college hockey recruiting is kind of flying off the handle, these two men represent the integrity our sport should embody.
Benny is an amazing coach and friend. He is a great husband to a wife that is way cooler than he is. But most of all…as I sit here and think about how I want to raise our nine-month old daughter, I can only hope that I can live up to the kind of Dad that Benny is to his two girls. At the end of the day, those girls are his world…and they are so lucky to have a guy like him to tuck them in at night.
Benny, I love ya man. You are the best and so deserving of this award. Keep on lighting up the room with your humor, sincerity, passion…and the shine from the top of your head. Congrats!!