COLUMN: After 924 Wins, York Personifies ‘Ever to Excel’ On And Off The Ice
Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
While the college football coaching carousel made a stop at Boston College this week with the addition of Steve Addazio, another major chapter of BC athletic history is on the verge of being written. When the men’s hockey team travels to play Hockey East rival Providence College tomorrow night, it will be vying for much more than a conference victory.
PC’s Schneider Arena will potentially be an unlikely venue for history: head coach Jerry York’s record-breaking 925th career victory. Perhaps York’s inevitable milestone has taken somewhat of a back seat during a suddenly hectic week for the BC sports scene. Considering his stoic demeanor and avoidance of fanfare for his own accomplishment, however, he probably doesn’t mind.
In fact, it might be exactly what he wanted all along.
After all, York has already solidified his place as one of BC’s elite. All you have to do is look up at the banners hanging from the ceiling of Conte Forum to understand his legacy on the Heights. The milestones he’s reached and achievements he has garnered since returning to his alma mater in 1994 speak for themselves—over 900 career victories, six Beanpot titles, and four national championships. He has brought young and unpolished recruits together to form a dynastic powerhouse unrivaled by any other program in the country. And for over 20 BC alums enjoying careers in the NHL? All played on an Eagle squad headed by York himself.
Yet, you don’t have to have a stat sheet memorized to realize the impact York has had on BC hockey and how strongly he is revered on campus. The chants of “Jerry” that shook the walls of Conte prior to York’s record-tying win against rival Boston University last Saturday night have become a standard way of honoring the man who has lived out the University motto of “Ever to Excel.” When he notches win 925 and breaks Ron Mason’s all-time mark for career victories, expect the chants to only grow louder.
Regardless of how many records he’s broken or titles he’s won, York’s legacy reaches far beyond the trophy case. His time at BC has been defined by the intangibles he embodies and instills within his players—attributes that can neither be confined to material accomplishments nor drawn up in a playbook. All you have to do is hear him speak to know the set of values he champions. Sportsmanship echoes in his words when he congratulates the effort of an opponent during a postgame press conference, and selflessness leads him to fill his sentences with “we” rather than “I.” After Saturday night’s game, York shared the mantra he and his coaching staff have preached to the Eagles throughout the ups and downs of every college hockey season: “If you put yourself above the team, good things are not going to happen.”
If the words of team captain Pat Mullane are any indication, his coach’s message has hit home.
“There’s no place for selfishness or ‘me’ attitude at BC,” Mullane said. “It’s everything for the team and this University.”
York lives what he preaches with little fanfare because empty words like “ego” aren’t in his vocabulary. And if he does break the record on Friday night at Providence, expect BC’s beloved head hockey coach to react as he always has: with his signature professionalism and high praise of his squad’s effort.
After his team’s loss to BC on Saturday, BU men’s hockey head coach Jack Parker offered an interesting bit of praise for York’s achievements that left me thinking: “It’s hard for people to believe this … but I still don’t think he gets the credit he deserves.”
This is neither a backhanded compliment nor a critique of fans’ appreciation for BC’s beloved head coach. Rather, it is a testament to York’s approach to both hockey and life—one that strives for greatness rather than accolades, allowing actions to speak louder than words. If you truly want to know Superfans’ opinion of York and what he’s done for BC, simply look at a certain banner hanging in the corner of Conte Forum and the words it states: “In Jerry We Trust.”