Column: From The Heights To The Pros: Why Former Eagles Prove The Worth Of BC
Published: Monday, April 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 20:01
From a Superfan’s perspective, the 2011-2012 school year has been characterized by the highest of highs and the lowest of lows for Boston College sports. We’ve persevered through a disappointing football season, watched a young basketball squad steadily mature before our eyes, and celebrated as our hockey team hoisted a National Championship trophy at the Frozen Four. Throughout this rollercoaster ride for BC fans, there have been reasons to either look forward to the future with optimism or turn cynical toward an athletic department that hasn’t exactly been the model of consistency this year. Add in BC’s tough ACC competition—powerhouse programs looming with talent—and even the most committed Superfan begins to doubt.
After all, this is a school that, in years past, has produced Heisman winner Doug Flutie, Super Bowl champion Bill Romanowski, and many other Eagles who soared beyond the Heights to make an impact on the professional sporting world. It is a school that’s garnered bowl game victories, experienced NCAA tournament births, and earned National Championship trophies. We’ve historically met high expectations, but has a year that’s tested Superfans’ pride and patience led us to always be prepared for the worst?
We may have reason to believe that BC’s tradition of athletic excellence has taken a beating, but all us fans have to do is tune into the NFL Draft this Thursday or the Stanley Cup playoffs in order to prove that our fears are unfounded—the proverbial glass we once saw as half empty is actually half full.
Take our football team, for instance. The 2011 season produced eight losses and a dismal end to the Eagles’ 12-game bowl streak, but it also was the backdrop of linebacker Luke Kuechly’s emergence as a Butkus Trophy winner and NFL prospect. After averaging over 15 tackles per game and catching the attention of scouts with his uncanny ability to lead a defense, Kuechly solidified his spot as a high first-round pick in Thursday night’s draft. He’s heralded as one of the best all-around football players and “high-character guys” in this year’s crop of collegiate talent turning pro, and analysts’ latest projections insinuate that he may be taken by an NFL team within the first 10 selections. While the Eagles may not have come close to producing a winning season, they did produce a highly touted professional-to-be who has effectively represented BC as a top-tier university with top-tier athletic programs.
Still not convinced? Then keep calling me a blind optimist, but when in doubt, I suggest looking at our hockey team for proof of my point. Besides of winning the collegiate hockey’s National Championship a few weeks ago, the greatest accomplishment for both head coach Jerry York’s Eagles and arguably all of BC sports this year was sending five players off to embark on their professional careers. Barry Almeida, Brian Dumoulin, Paul Carey, and Tommy Cross all prepared to lace up for their respective NHL organizations and represent BC on a whole other level. And their former teammate Chris Kreider? He seems to have made a seamless transition from starring on the Heights to debuting as a first-shift forward in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, helping the New York Rangers in their pursuit of another Stanley Cup. After earning high praise from Rangers coach John Tortorella for the 20-year old Kreider’s effort and poise, I think it’s safe to say that he deserves the pride of all Superfans, and has further secured BC’s reputation as producer of quality athletes.
Of course, I realize that the individual success of these former Eagles will no longer help build winning teams here on the Heights nor bring success to next year’s installment of BC sports. Yet their success and ascension to the promised land of athletics says a lot about BC—we are a University that can still produce high-quality, high-character individuals, both on the playing field and beyond. For any doubting Superfan, that is certainly something of which we can be proud.