Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Mark Dennehy- Thanks for the memories

I realized today that it has been a while- quite a long while- that this blog has seen any action. With all of the hustle and bustle, life's responsibilities, sometimes things get pushed in the background. While I am really interested in getting podcasting going and off the ground, I was also reminded about the value of blogs- and since I have a couple of blogs out there, it's time to get them going again.

With that being said, I'd like to devote this time to share my thoughts on the recent departure of our head coach of the Merrimack men's hockey team of 13 years, Mark Dennehy. To begin with some context- after eliminating the defending league champion UMass Lowell River Hawks the weekend before in two dogfights, on Saturday night, March 10, the Warriors lost a grueling series with Boston College, getting eliminated from the tournament- losing the second game in heartbreaking fashion, 4-3 in overtime. It ended a series which I felt Merrimack was the better team- the shots on goal for the series certainly indicated the discrepancy to which I felt Merrimack carried the play (70-35 for the two games). I remember the feeling I had when I signed off at Conte Forum that night- the emotions ran the gamut- heartbreak, sadness, maybe a little bit of anger, bewilderment, you get the picture. The end of a hockey season is tough- particularly if you fall short of the ultimate goal- winning a championship- and particularly when it ends suddenly and abruptly like ours did. That's the beauty and the pain of hockey- playoff hockey- sudden death means sudden death. When it ends, it ends immediately, and your season can end that way. 

Driving home from BC that night I tried to process what I had seen, and how proud I was of our team and how we fought. Remember, we're talking about playing the # 1 seed of the whole tournament- in their barn, and us being the 10 seed- in a place that has been a struggle to win at- not just us, but the whole of the league. We were the underdogs. No one gave us a chance. I reflected on how we battled and how our coaching staff led these guys into battle and how we damned near pulled it off. As Jace Hennig said in his letter to the coaching staff, the team was just one bounce away from having it go the other way. Just one bounce. 

I found out the next morning that Merrimack had made the decision to let Coach Dennehy go, along with assistant coach Bill Gilligan. Curtis Carr would be staying on for at least the interim. I was quite shocked and saddened to hear this news, to say the least.  I just remember feeling numb, very numb. I remember talking to Mike Machnik that day via phone. I also remember feeling very sad for Mark, his wife Heather, and their three daughters. Like many others, my first impulse was to ask "why?". 

We may never know the answers, and my objective here is not to be critical of my employers decision, especially since the facts are not known. My purpose here is to thank Mark and show my appreciation for his body of work. 

As I said in a Facebook post, I met Mark in the late summer of 2005, when we were both hired at Merrimack. His first game on the bench was my first game on the air. We went to Bowling Green, Ohio, that first night, and Mark won his first game as bench boss of the Warriors, 3-2, and then we went off to Michigan two days later and lost 9-2. The team flew out to the midwest, as college hockey teams always do. I drove out there and met the team there- the things you do to make a good first impression. 

As those early years continued onward, it was a real struggle on the ice. The team went 3-27-4 in Mark's second year, and he was under a lot of pressure. Mark had to basically convince the administration at Merrimack that Division 1 hockey was the right fit for the Warriors- he had to provide compelling evidence that they could stay where they were. I remember that Jack Parker also tried to compel Mark to leave Hockey East. But Mark stuck to his guns and never quit. He believed in this program and where he felt they could not only stay, but thrive. 

The team improved, and it hit a real high water mark in 2010- winning 25 games, going 25-10-4, going to the Hockey East Championship game at TD Garden, then making their way to the NCAA Regionals in Manchester, N.H., losing to Notre Dame, a future Hockey East opponent. 

We also got to work a game at Fenway Park- and Mark was kind enough to honor my ten year service at Merrimack with an authentic game jersey with my last name and the number 10 on the back- one of the most wonderful gifts I've ever received (Derek Petti thanks for sharing your number with me). 

Not to digress here, but I'll get back to Mark himself now. All you need to know about this man is all the support he is getting from the college hockey world and the impact he has had on everyone that has come into contact with him- players, coaches, broadcasters, officials- you name it, every single person I've seen has been overly supportive of Mark and how he handles himself. In my own personal case, where do I begin? I interviewed Mark prior to many of the games I've done at Merrimack, and he couldn't have been more classy and professional. He truly cared about you and your life. He wanted to get to know you. And it wasn't fake or phony. He made you feel like family. That's how he treated the whole experience at Merrimack. If something happened in your life that made you happy, Mark was genuinely happy. If things weren't going so hot he'd be concerned for you, and it was real. You could feel it. 

I know how the players felt about him. They would go through a wall for him. And I would too. Every single broadcast we did it was always my goal to have passion and energy , to make the broadcast something Mark could be proud of. He cared about every single detail of Merrimack hockey down to the studs, and we were a part of that. I wanted radio to be the last thing he'd ever have to worry about, and I think we achieved that goal.

To finish up, I know Mark will land on his feet. Good coaches do and good people do. He will wind up with another team and he will make them better. Their gain is our loss. Will it feel strange walking into Merrimack in October and not seeing him there? You better believe it will. He has left a major, indelible imprint on this school and this team. His legacy will forever be etched in the history of this program. Nothing will ever take away from that. 

I want to thank Mark again here, on this public forum, for everything. His patience, tolerance, friendship, and the skill with which he performed on a nightly basis. A piece of him will always be with us. I know it will be for me for sure.

Here is an interview I did with Mark in Providence, RI on 1-6-18. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed conducting it.

https://archive.org/details/MarkDennehyPreGame1618AtPC




Monday, December 22, 2014

Mitochondrial Disease

On Monday, December 22, I had a chance to sit down and interview my high school friend and classmate Mike Goldberg, who is suffering from mitochondrial disease. I sat down with Mike and had a heart to heart interview about his struggles.

If you'd like to listen to the chat we had, please navigate to https://archive.org/details/MichaelGoldbergMito12-22-14.

If you are having difficulty listening please select the FLASH option to listen. Thank you!

Thanks everyone and Merry Christmas to you all!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why sports is so fulfilling

I have been involved with sports a long time. Commentating it for 20 years and playing it long before that. It has been a joy to be a part of. They say that the key to happiness is doing the work you love, and being fulfilled at it. That feeling of getting to the top of the mountain and not having to say, " So this is success, is that all there is? " Sports will always have that ability to fulfill me. Why? The self -help author Anthony Robbins talks about the six human needs- the needs that every human being on the face of the earth has to feel truly fulfilled and happy, and sports meets each one. I'll go through them here, and hopefully at the end you'll see why it is so special.

The first need is the NEED FOR CERTAINTY.  We need a sense of certainty to feel that we can gain pleasure in our lives and avoid pain. We need to feel that we are in control of our lives and can do things that make us happy. How does being involved with sports create that feeling of certainty? Everything about what I do as a broadcaster creates pleasure for me.... the thrill of preparing,planning, and commentating on a game.... and the pain level is extremely low. What is the worst thing that could happen to me during a game? The game gets knocked off the air? I have the confidence to know how to fix anything that may go wrong. The pleasure/pain ratio is way favored towards the pleasure side. This can be thought of as a " Class 1 experience", it feels good, it is good for you, it is good for others and it serves the greater good. I am certain that the end of my day will leave me with a feeling of joy and happiness.

The second need is the need for UNCERTAINTY AND VARIETY.  If we become too certain, we become bored. Life gets to be too predictable. We all need surprises and challenges in our life to feel truly fulfilled. And how does sports fill that need? Every game is unique. Every game is different. No two games will ever finish the same way. You always will have the ability to see something you have never seen before. Upsets happen. David beats Goliath. Look at the NCAA basketball tournament, that is a perfect example. Sports creates that edge, that sense of excitement that keeps us on the edge of our seats. We constantly have that edge and surprise factor. Sports will ALWAYS fill this need.

The third need is the need for SIGNIFICANCE.  This involves the sense that we are unique and we have a special purpose or meaning for our lives. We all have the need to feel significance or that feeling of importance, or as Dale Carnegie calls it. " The craving to feel appreciated." I feel significant when I broadcast because I am helping people. People rely on me to be the eyes and ears for them when they listen on the radio. They rely on me to inform them what is going on. There are many options for them to follow the game but they choose to tune me in. That is something I take very seriously and that is also why I give 100% of myself on the air. That feeling of being needed gives me the feeling of significance.

The fourth need is the need for LOVE AND CONNECTION.  There is not a human being alive on this earth that does not need love and connection with other human beings. That feeling of bonding with people and creating special feelings of connection. From a fan's perspective, sports provides a wonderful social bonding experience, whether it be gathering at a pub to watch a game, or at a stadium. From my perspective, I have made many great friends in my years of broadcasting. And the best example I can give you is my job calling Merrimack College hockey. Working for Merrimack makes you feel like you have an extended family. We all get to know each other, we become interested in each other's lives, and we genuinely care about each other. This happens in baseball too, with long bus trips, where you get to sit and talk with the players and coaches and connect with them. If you are lucky enough to have a job where you feel like you're a part of a family, you'll always have this need met.

The fifth need is the need for GROWTH.  I will never know everything there is to know about broadcasting and being a broadcaster. There is always something to learn. Hey, I have learned a lot over my last ten years at Merrimack and I am still learning. For example, I learned how to run commercials during our games, something that is effortless now. And it is also helpful if you have a colleague who pushes you to be your best, as I do in Mike Machnik. And to me, growing is fun, It means I am expanding and getting better at my craft. And the knowledge that I still have more to learn, and always will, keeps me humble. Broadcasting will always fill this need because I always strive to get better.

The sixth and final need is the need for CONTRIBUTION. This need involves serving the greater good, as well as contributing to ourselves and our happiness. To me, the way I contribute most is by trying to make other people happy. If I go on the air and people listen to my broadcast and enjoy it, and if I can make them feel happy and that they enjoyed the game, then I have contributed to their happiness, and that gives me the greatest feelings of joy I could experience. And if I am at the microphone, then I know I will have that chance every day,and that gives me ultimate joy and feelings that I have contributed in a tangible way.

So I can say I am truly fulfilled. I hope that those that read this will consider applying the six human needs to their lives and/or jobs and feel the same way I do!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Thanks for the memories

I recently made the announcement that after 15 years the high school football website I have run would be removed from the Internet. It has been a great run and I have had fun maintaining it over the years. Some of you might be wondering why I have made this decision. I will go into that now, and I'll end with some thank you's.

First, the website is getting costly to run. People may not be aware of this, but I pay every month to keep the site going. Financially I cannot justify the labor anymore. The absence of monies coming in combined with the perceived lack of interest in the site justifies this decision in my view.

Secondly, there is the time commitment factor. With my responsibilities at Merrimack College doing their hockey on radio, as well as my baseball commitments in the summer, I have found it virtually impossible to devote time to the upkeep of the site. In 2008 and 2009, I worked in Kalamazoo, Michigan doing baseball in the summer, and I found myself updating the site from Western Michigan remotely for the first two weeks of the season, which was no small task. I did the same thing in 2010 when I worked in Florence, KY. I don't mean for this to sound like a complaint, but merely just to illustrate the demands of time it takes. And I don't do anything halfway- when I do something I am all in. That is the approach I have tried to take with the website.

Finally, the sweeping changes that high school football in Massachusetts is taking has turned me off, so much so that I am losing interest in the game, sadly. The Hockomock League has not been immune from these changes. Adding teams to the league was fine, that is an easily adaptable thing to maneuver (Taunton coming in last year and Milford this year)... but the schedule changes and new playoff systems are a major turn-off for me. I think this new system destroys the integrity of the game- specifically, playing your Thanksgiving opponent TWICE in a season now... as well as ending the season earlier, a complicated playoff system, and uncertainties regarding the schedule. Call me old school, but I think the Thanksgiving rivalries are going to go by the wayside and that is a tradition that should remain forever. I think it's a sign from above that it's time for me to bow out. It was fun back in the 90's and 00's when I was doing games and the site was a good resource, but it's not fun anymore, it's just work- work I do not get paid to do.

I'd like to take the time to thank a few people who have been great to work with over the years- Barry Porter, who like me shared a passion for high school athletics, so much so that he himself has a site up for a while; Bruce Glazer, who I worked alongside doing Stoughton-Mansfield games on our respective Cable Access stations; Mark Farinella, quite possibly the best high school football scribe in the state; my good friend Mike Logan, who helped me promote the site last year on the radio while doing Taunton games; Eric Shulman, one of my best friends and an invaluable resource over the years; and to everyone who at some point dropped me a note of support if the site helped them in any way. Also thanks to Stoughton Cable Access (Dale Queenan) who gave me the opportunity to do games on TV when I was just starting out. And finally, to my wife Lori, who was understanding and supportive in my decision to stay connected to this project.

With the emergence of Patch news agencies as well as your local papers (i.e. the Attleboro Sun Chronicle) there will be no shortages of ways to get your football fix. The website will be online for a few more weeks in the event that people may wish to print anything off of the site. You can find it at www.hockomockleaguefootball.com.

Farewell everyone, it has been a good run. Enjoy the games.

Monday, April 30, 2012

New book is underway!

Today, April 30, marks the start of my next project, my third book. This book will be about success concepts with a neat twist and perspective. I chose ten of my favorite success concepts- those traits that I find truly important in life- and I will interview each Hockey East coach (all ten of them) and have each one discuss a particular topic. I'll ask the coaches to talk about how the trait applies to them personally, and how it specifically relates to their team.

I'll be travelling to each Hockey East school to conduct the interviews over the next ten weeks. It should be a fascinating journey. I wanted to do this, yes, for the book, but it will also allow me to sit down and have a face to face with the ten men who coach in Hockey East. Let's face it, I really don't have a lot of opportunity to really get to know these coaches (with the exception of Mark Dennehy, who I see all the time).  I thought this would be a good opportunity to do this.

I'll keep everyone posted on this project as we move along. The first stop is Providence in Week 1, with the bench boss of the Providence Friars, Nate Leaman.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Merrimack at Maine, HEQF, Game 3 (3rd period)

Here is the final period of Game 3 of the 2011-12 Hockey East Quarterfinals between Merrimack and Maine, recorded live at Alfond Arena in Orono on March 12, 2012. Click below to hear the period in its entirety.

http://www.archive.org/details/MerrimackAtMaineHeqfGame33rdPeriod

Merrimack at Maine, HEQF Game 3 (2nd period)

Here, in its entirety, is the second period of Game 3 of the Hockey East Quarterfinals between Merrimack and Maine, recorded live at Maine's Alfond Arena on 3-11-12. Click below to listen:

http://www.archive.org/details/MerrimackAtMaineHeqfGame32ndPeriod