Above each stall in the Men’s hockey locker room is the name of a player and his jersey number. Over the plate that reads “Benjamin Roy,” in lieu of a jersey number there is a Batman sticker. Ben is not a player or a coach, but he is a permanent member of the team and a very special little boy.
Ben is a 9-year-old who has been a cancer survivor for five years of his young life. He was partnered with the hockey team through “Team IMPACT,” a program that partners ill or disabled children with college athletic programs. Senior captain Tucker Mullin was contacted by the director of the program and says he jumped at the opportunity to have Ben become part of the team.
Over the last two years, Tucker and his teammates have far exceeded expectations and have welcomed Ben as a part of the team. Ben knows everyone on the team and can often be seen at practices playing games with the boys like tag and human bowling. Players including Liam McKillop, Greg Crovo, Sean Jenkins, and Kody Grondin organize his activities and maintain contact with Ben’s mother.
Ben brings laughter and a positive attitude every time he joins the team. Senior Andy Kacz gives Ben his watch every time he comes because it makes him “invisible.” Ben has a helmet and a pair of skates in his stall and some of the guys are teaching him how to skate. He’s making progress, says the team captain.
Mullin and the other guys welcome Ben not only as their friend but as a team member. He is welcome at practices, games, and team meetings, and has two permanently reserved seats behind the bench for him and his mother. “He sometimes will come down to the locker room and give us high-fives as we go out on the ice. It’s great to come off the ice and have him be the first person you see through the glass,” says Tucker.
Ben's team biography:
Benjamin joins the Hawks for his second full season as a member of the Men's Ice Hockey team for the 2012-13 season. He joined the program in accordance with Team IMPACT in the Spring of 2011 and has played an integral role on the team since then. He brings infectious joy, laughter and energy each day he is with his teammates.
Ben enjoys hanging out in the locker room and learning to skate with the team. His favorite superhero is Batman and he loves spending time with his beloved dog Daphne.
When the Hawks won the NE-10 last year for the third straight time, Ben was one of the first people to jump onto the ice and celebrate with the team. He’s in all the pictures, and if you look carefully, amidst the crowd of players, you can see his batman hat.
Tucker’s proudest moment with Ben was when he walked the first lap at last year’s Relay for Life Cancer rally. The first lap is reserved for cancer survivors and their families, and Tucker and Ben walked side by side.
“I don’t know if he realizes the significance of that, but for me it’s something that will stay with me the rest of my life,” Tucker says. “I might have had to walk next to him so he wouldn’t be shy, but it put a lot in perspective for me. It was an honor to walk in his and the other survivors’ company. I often think that we look up to him as much as he looks up to us. He has overcome great odds to be where he is today and he brings his Mom and many others so much joy, it’s really humbling to be a part of their life.”
Tucker will graduate soon, but Ben will remain a member of the Hawks. Other players will take over Tucker’s role and continue the beautiful relationship they have developed. Tucker will continue to be a role model in Benjamin’s life, however. “I am excited for that relationship with the team to continue growing and Ben and his Mom are people I’ll never lose touch with after I graduate,” he says.
Ben has made just as big an impact on the lives of Tucker and his teammates as they have made on his. And that, in its essence, is what it means to be an Anselmian.
Editor's Note: This story was submitted by Tim Wirzburger '13.