Awards recipients Dempsey Brown, Rob Brown, and Luke Boraczek with members of the Rye Rangers Good Skate Committee.
Photos by Hat Photography Heather Tietjan
The Rye Rangers gathered for a surprise presentation of the Good Skate and Rye Rangers awards at Playland October 9. Rob Brown was the recipient of the 2022 Good Skate Award, and Luke Boraczek and Dempsey Brown received the Rye Rangers college scholarships.
Board members Sam Weinman and Rocky Shepard were bursting to share the news.
In his welcoming remarks, Shepard said, “As I have had the honor to make this presentation in the past, I am always struck by the large number of amazing candidates. The selection of Rob Brown is overdue for sure, and his credentials speak for themselves. Let’s do a quick review: Excellent Hockey Player – Check. Excellent Hockey Coach – Check. Excellent Parent – Check. Excellent Member of our Community – Check.
“For those of you who may be new to the history of the Good Skate here is the background. On December 15, 2001, the Rye Rangers staged a memorial game and fund-raiser for the families of three members of our club who perished in the tragedy at the World Trade Center. These individuals are Tommy Palazzo, Teddy Maloney, and Ward Haynes.
At the Rye Rangers Memorial Cup, we dedicated an award called “the Good Skate”. What struck each of us, as we remembered our friends, was how genuinely nice they were, how helpful they were to their friends, how loving they were with their families, and generally, how much fun they were to be around. In rink jargon, each one was what you might call a “good skate”. A black granite trophy with an embedded silver skate was created by one of our members, Gerry Baum, to remind us of this goodness and to inspire us all to be better individuals.
“The inscription on the Good Skate states that it is to be: ‘Presented annually to the member of the Rye Rangers Hockey Club voted by his/her peers as best epitomizing the human goodness of these special individuals. It shall be forever known as the Good Skate Award. Its enduring legacy is to serve as a reminder that we are all better human beings for having shared our lives, both on and off the ice, with these guys.
Shepard turned the podium over to “club orator” Sam Weinman.
“About a dozen years ago, Rob’s son Dempsey and my son Charlie had become friends, as had our wives, and at one point I mentioned to Rob that there was a late-night men’s hockey skate if he ever wanted to come. I had no idea if Rob was any good, but I knew he was Canadian and liked hockey – which I guess is redundant. Then, when he showed up for the skate and scored six goals in the first ten minutes, a part of me wished that I never said anything in the first place!
“But that is Rob Brown, unassuming and consistently impressive, to the point that he makes guys like me feel pretty lame by comparison. Having played with him, and then coached alongside him, plus being fortunate to call him a great friend, the one thing that stands out is that Rob does everything with incredible conviction. It’s how he lives his life, and it’s what he’s brought our program from Day 1. Rob is nota <throw out the pucks and see what happens> type of coach. He cares too much about the game, and he asks the kids who come across his path what he asks of himself: work hard, show integrity, and play the game the right way.
“Those of you who know Rob might see him through the prism of where he is now. He has a successful business; he has raised four incredible kids; he is the type of impeccable dresser who, on the golf trips we’ve taken together, is notorious for scripting his matching outfits out weeks in advance. Rob’s friends love to tweak him for that, and yet what people forget is how, more than most, he’s earned every stitch of the clothes he wears. Rob grew up next to train tracks in New Brunswick Canada, ten miles outside of a town of just 4,000 people. His considerable success as a hockey player, which took him to Northwood Prep and then Bowdoin, was not a byproduct of skill sessions or private lessons, but mostly of countless hours on frozen ponds near home.
When Rob got out of school, he was starting from scratch, so he worked tirelessly, often seven days a week, trying to build a client base. For several years after college, he and Aileen shared a small New York City apartment with her sister and brother-in-law.
“Those of us who skate with Rob on weekends know him as a guy who can weave through all five opponents to score an effortless goal, yet at his core, he is a grinder. As a coach he stresses effort, as well as the sanctity of the team game. At a young age, he taught our players about the three P’s – passing, positioning, poise. He demonstrates drills at full speed, in part to one-up his fellow coaches, but also to leave no doubt that he knows what he’s doing. The result is that Rob’s teams not only play with a level of sophistication that belies their age but win. In our program’s first year in Tier 2 last season the Pee Wee AA team he coached rolled through the Long Island hockey league to earn a berth in the state tournament.
“Rob’s influence on the Rye Rangers has extended beyond his coaching. He has served as vice president during a period of staggering growth, helping us to strike a balance between constructing more competitive teams while not getting caught up in some of the madness of youth hockey. He has been instrumental in growing and strengthening our 16U teams, and this year was the driving force in revitalizing our 18U program, ultimately forging a partnership with Mamaroneck to give players from both organizations an opportunity to keep playing.
All of this, and Rob’s other great contribution to the program might be his family, starting with his wife, Aileen, an exceptionally talented photographer who has taken some of the most indelible images of our players in recent years. And then there are his four amazing kids: Dempsey, Bowyn, Selke, and Harkin. It is no surprise that all the Brown kids have been blessed with athletic talent. Yet what sets them apart, and what has made them standouts on our teams and plenty of others, is they play with their father’s trademark grit and savvy.
“That Rob Brown is our Good Skate Award recipient is the latest in a string of ‘How did this guy not already win this thing’ winners. It’s because he represents the best of our program and the men this award honors, a love of the game, a respect for others, and the incredible lessons that hockey teaches us every day.”
When it was time to hand out the scholarship award, which recognizes a player, Shepard explained that to be eligible for this award candidates must have played in the organization and “have done things right. The basic criteria can be defined in two words, “Good Citizenship”.
There were many viable candidates, Shepard continued, “and it was a tough call, but Luke Boraczek and Dempsey Brown stuck out and the members of the Good Skate Committee were pleased to award each of them a $1,000 college scholarship.”