FIRST RUSTIN TEAM: 2005-2006 MIDDLE SCHOOL

In over twenty years of coaching and end-of-season reviews, this one was by far the hardest to write. I must have stopped, scratched, erased, deleted, and restarted a dozen times. Why was this so hard? I think you will understand as you read on, but don’t expect this to be your normal game-by-game analysis. So here goes. This team this season will not be defined by just what happened in games, you have to look at a much bigger picture. Rustin Hockey started out with an idea on Greg Dugan’s back porch and grew into something that changed hockey in West Chester forever.

As far as the on-ice results go, both my and Greg’s goal was to “season” this team in the 2005 spring league, teach them skills during summer clinic, and work hard in the regular season to end up around .500 and make the playoffs. Well, that is exactly what we did. When spring league started, most of our team was not even in middle school, and yet were playing against teams much older and experienced. As you all know, we got “seasoning”, but we never quit. In the summer clinic, the boys worked hard and listened well. They started to look like a team. As the regular season unfolded, we felt we were actually ready, and we were. We had wins, we had losses, and even had a couple of ties. Yes, we indeed made the playoffs. Mission Accomplished! It was definitely very exciting.

What I really want to talk about though is the off-ice impact. For almost 365 days, these boys showed everyone that they were young men. Even when they were scared, and almost always the underdog, they never showed it. It was almost like they were daring people, not just teams to challenge them. They did so many things off the ice together, stuck up for each other, and became not just teammates, but friends. Actually, not just friends, they became family. From there, the families of these little giants became one big family. We spent our free time, and even holidays together. These boys broke down the walls of East and Henderson, and from that rubble, built the foundation for Rustin Hockey. This foundation was built for other sports too. When the Rustin Hockey Club was formed, other sports began to talk about us already having a team. Every future team at Rustin will have to live up to the highest standards that these guys have set. Heart, Character, and Discipline are not just words to them, they are actions. I have had many teams make history, but this team not only made history, but it also made the rules and set an example for all other Rustin teams to live by. THAT’S COOL!