Thursday, January 20, 2011

Payday Memorabilia: Joe Battista BWI

The only thing I hate about hockey is the fact that lazy headline writers love it. How many times has "Iceman Cometh" been used for a hockey story in a non-hockey publication? Twelve billion? Yes, it's played on ice. Good on you for picking up on that.

You know what's always a blast? Hindsight. This autographed edition of Blue White Illustrated, dated August 21st, 2002 and featuring Joe Battista on the cover, offers that in spades as it takes a look at the "fight to make hockey a varsity sport." How was that fight going over eight years ago?
Next stop, the coach hopes, is Division I. He said people in the hockey world are "dumbfounded" that Penn State has not yet made that transition, that it has not become the sixth Big Ten team to field a big-time program.

"We're just chomping at the bit for a chance," Battista said. "I would really like to see it happen."

They will need that new arena, and that will take, by Battista's estimate, $10 million to $15 million to build. They will have to jump through other some other bureaucratic hoops.

"I believe it's only a matter of time before it's going to happen," he said. "You've got to start somewhere."
$10 million to $15 million? Glad he didn't start at that number with Mr. Pegula. The majority of the piece though, despite how the cover makes it sound, was not on that particular topic. In fact, I just gave you 90% of what was said about going varsity. Really, it was a glowing profile marking Battista's being named as BWI's Penn State coach of the year. A couple other passages I liked:
So they don't get the best of everything - so what. They make do. They thrive. And they thrive in large part because of Battista's drive.
How was he able to recruit so well at the ACHA level?
"We recruit for the school," [Battista] said. "What we're doing is, we're going after the kid who's a borderline NCAA Division I talent, or a kid who's small Division II-Division III-caliber who doesn't want to go to a small liberal-arts school. What we're doing is selling the kid on a Big Ten education, a large alumni association and one of the most recognizable names anywhere in the world. It's an opportunity to be a big fish in a smaller pond, as opposed to a guy who's lost in a bigger program."
Players' coach? Players' coach:
[Former defenseman Josh] Mandel remembers the Icers playing in "horrible conditions" at Iowa State his freshman year, and several of the players retreating to a hotel hot tub afterward. Battista soon joined them, and spent the next hour unfurling "some of the best stories I've ever heard," according to Mandel.
One interesting note to close this: of Battista and the five coaches given honorable mentions for the coach of the year honor, only fencing's Emmanuil Kaidanov is still coaching at Penn State. The others: Paula Wilkins (women's soccer), Rene Portland (women's basketball), Bill Dorenkott (women's swimming/diving) and Harry Groves (men's track).

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