Hockey is life; everything else is just detailsWritten by Ryan Fowler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
What a way to honor 40 years of tradition. What a way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of a school’s last national championship.
What a slap shot in the face.
The rumor mill is swirling at BGSU, and the Falcon hockey program has been swept up in a budget tornado.
As the economy tries to revive itself, reports reveal that BGSU is facing a $10 million shortfall. To help alleviate money woes, BGSU President Carol Cartwright is rumored to have suggested eliminating the hockey program, a school staple since being established in 1969.
It should be noted that in 1994, Cartwright cut the hockey program at Kent State when she was in charge there. So this has happened under her watch before, but it should also be noted that the Golden Flashes hockey history pales in comparison to the Falcons.
“I didn’t believe it,” said former Falcon hockey player Ian Duncan. “[We’re] talking about Bowling Green tradition. There’s no reason to do it. I’m just disappointed right now.”
Duncan was there the last time BGSU won a national championship trophy.
On March 24, 1984, competing on the hallowed ice in Lake Placid, N.Y., the same site as the “Miracle on Ice” team, the Falcons outlasted the University of Minnesota-Duluth in the longest collegiate hockey championship game in history, winning 5-4 in four overtimes.
“To have a Division I hockey program on ice is the best thing for Bowling Green State University,” Duncan said.
Now I will admit, I’m not the biggest hockey fan in the world, but I know how important the sport is to BGSU. During my freshman year, the ice arena acted like a social playground for green-faced, first-year students.
There was something about the building, the aura, the scent and sensation of the ice around you. The simple setting practically sucked you in, even though the action on the ice may have left you craving more.
The Falcons last winning season was in1997 under head coach Buddy Powers. This past season, BG could only muster 11 wins and got knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.
And yet hockey and Bowling Green continue to link this part of the state to the outside world.
“There are not a whole lot of people who know what Bowling Green is,” Duncan said. “It’s like Bowling Green, Ky., or is it BGSU? Most of the time it’s known for its hockey. It travels the most.”
“It’s what we grew up watching,” said Bowling Green native Betsy Dewitt. “It’s what we grew up playing. I knew every player’s name. We are rich in history. We have Stanley Cup players.”
Dewitt started skating at the age of 3. She attended BGSU. She played hockey at the ice arena. She married a hockey coach. Now their kids play hockey. Do you see the attachment of sport and citizen?
I’ll grant that, on a national stage, hockey may trail football, baseball and basketball in popularity, but in Bowling Green, hockey is what sets not only the town, but the university apart.
As much as Urban Meyer tried to pump up the Falcon football program earlier this decade, the school will never draw Notre Dame to play inside Doyt Perry Stadium.
Whereas, hockey coach Scott Paluch can convince the Irish, Michigan and The Ohio State University to travel to BGSU, recently honored Mid-American Conference men’s basketball coach of the year Louis Orr will struggle to get a team from the Big Ten to pay a visit to Anderson Arena.
“When the hockey program goes, we feel we go. We don’t want to go,” Dewitt said.
On March 17, BGSU Athletic Director Greg Christopher released an open letter to Falcon fans saying that, instead of eliminating any sports, there will be cuts across the board to all of the college’s 18 varsity sports teams.
During the 1990s, there use to be popular T-shirts that read:
“Hockey is life, everything else is just details.”
My hope is that those details don’t suck the life, identity and tradition out of BGSU.
Ryan Fowler is the weekend sports anchor at NBC 24. He can be reached at email@example.com.