Living a Dream
One of the objectives of starting our blog was to provide our clients and readers with educational and market research content. But another reason was to provide the opportunity to learn more about the individual’s here at Sgroi Financial. This Saturday, Notre Dame will play Minnesota Duluth in the Division 1 Men’s hockey National Championship. Being the hockey town that Buffalo is, I wanted to share a personal experience – winning the 2013 Division 1 hockey National Championship for the Yale University Bulldogs.
The image is still so clear in my head today. Looking into a sea of Yale hockey fans cheering as the confetti was coming down, trying to find my parents and my brothers. So much had led up to this point for all of us. The countless sacrifices my parents had to make while I was growing up to support my dreams of playing college hockey.
Growing up in Buffalo, NY, for me, was the perfect place. I grew up the youngest of three boys and was fortunate enough to have older brothers that encouraged me to be a competitor and to chase my dreams. I was always a hockey player, first stepping on the ice when I was five. In the years to follow, the game of hockey took me places I could have never imagined. I graduated from St. Francis High School, a time that provided a great foundation for myself as a student, person and a hockey player. I moved across the country to play for the Sioux Falls Stampede in the United States Hockey League (USHL). I was traded from one beautiful Midwest town to another, Waterloo, Iowa.
In August of 2011 I found myself driving southeast with my parents and my grandparents. The car full of the dorm room essentials, my hockey bag and the rest of my life. Deciding on Yale University was a process that took the prior two years. The USHL was a true launching pad for young players who wanted to play Division I hockey. I had interest from other schools and took my share of official visits. But there was something special about Yale – the history, the campus, the hockey program, the rink – it was perfect in my eyes.
Fast forward to the spring of 2013 – the Yale hockey team had just beat Minnesota and North Dakota, two college hockey powerhouses, in back to back days to reach the Frozen Four. For me, growing up a hockey player, winning the National Championship was always my goal. We always thought that any hockey after college would just be the cherry on top. Playing college hockey and winning a national championship was my dream.
The next week of preparation was the same as any other week. The only difference was the weather outside was a little warmer and the sun was setting during practice – which helped put things into perspective reinforced the fact that we are were one of four teams in the country still practicing. We were focused and ready for the big stage.
Winning the national semi-final in overtime and following that with a 4-0 win vs. Quinnipiac University, an in-conference rival, left us, the 15th seed Yale Bulldogs, National Champions! A dream come true. As the confetti was falling down there I was looking for my parents and brothers – once I did track them down I remember tossing my stick over the glass to my brothers. My Dad, being the memorabilia king that he is, has that stick hanging in his house today.
There was something special that happened in the hours after we won the National Championship – back at the hotel bar, I embraced my two brothers in a photo that ‘made Twitter cry’ – we didn’t think this photo would get much traction, we were just happy that we would have it for the rest of our lives. But the internet works in mysterious ways and the photo of us three spurred a movement on social media. Even CNN wanted to hear about it, you can check out the story here
In the time since winning the National Championship, I graduated from Yale University in 2015. I moved to New York City and was working at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. During those first two years after school I was distant from the game of hockey. Barely skating, one or twice a month. The game of hockey had been in my life since I had remembered. The two years I spent in New York had made me realize how much the game meant to me and the happiness it provides.
In May 2017 I moved backed home to Buffalo and began my career at Sgroi Financial, a decision and opportunity I am grateful for and excited to have made. During this same time, I took the Varsity Prep Hockey coaching position at my alma mater, St. Francis High School.
Buffalo is a community full of former hockey players, hockey dads, hockey moms, brothers, sisters, and families. Throughout my life, the relationships I have made around the rink have had the most impact on me and continue to be the people I lean on most. Every year around April I am reminded of a special run my teammates and I made to win the National Championship. The memories, the relationships, and the lessons learned from the game of hockey continue to push me forward.
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