C.J. Young '90
Ice Hockey - Hall of Fame Class of 2005
Harvard Athletic Achievements
“C.J.” was the Ivy League Player of the Year in 1990, All-ECAC selection in 88-89 and 89-90, and First Team All-Ivy in 87-88, 88-89, 89-90. He was the Bingham Award Co-Winner in 1990 (with Jon Bernstein ’90) and Tudor Cup winner in 1990. He is the only Harvard player to ever earn Second Team All-American (88-89, 89-90) twice.
He is currently tied for fifth for most goals in a single season with 33 in 88-89. He is fourth on Harvard’s list of goals in a career with 84, tied for second for power play goals in a season with 19 in 1988-89, third on the list of power play goals in a career with 38, and sixth for points in a career with 162. As a junior, he helped Harvard to its first-ever NCAA Championship title and was chosen by the New England Sportswriters as the Best Defensive Forward. He set an NCAA record for the fastest three goals when he scored a hat trick in just 49 seconds, all shorthanded, in a 10-0 win over Dartmouth on December 12, 1988. Also, in the same game, he set an ECAC standard by scoring five goals. A captain his senior year, C.J. went on to play for Calgary and Boston in the NHL from 1992-1993. He was also a member of the U.S. Olympic team that competed in Albertville in 1992.
Remembering Harvard Athletics
I would like to thank the Harvard Varsity Club for this wonderful honor. It goes without saying that to be included in a group of so many great scholar–athletes is a true privilege. To the individual inductees, who stand before you tonight, I say congratulations and I am honored to be included in our Hall of Fame class. And to the past honorees, I hope that you will find my accomplishments worthy of your esteemed company. This is truly a distinction that an athlete never envisions. Championships, individual goals are reasonable ideals on which to focus but a Hall of Fame distinction truly catches one by complete surprise, as it has me. It is a wonderful feeling to stand before you tonight and accept wholeheartedly this distinction. This occasion has given me the opportunity to reflect on how monumental an impact Harvard, Harvard Hockey and all it’s great people has had on my life.
I loved playing hockey at Harvard. I can truly say that during my 4 years, there was not one day that I regretted having to go to practice and spend time in the friendly confines of Bright Arena. Even the days you knew would be particularly tough, because Coach Cleary was unhappy with a prior nights effort, seemed rewarding. The daily ritual of going to the rink is one of the most vivid memories of my Harvard experience. The successes of our teams were so very important but the ability to practice the game you loved with 20 of your best friends took on a life of its own. There is something about playing hockey at Harvard that promotes cohesion that solidifies bonds between players. It is a characteristic that good teams strive to possess and great teams embrace as the key element for success. I am fortunate to be able to say that our teams possessed these qualities. It should not surprise anyone that my teammates have become some of my best friends because of these bonds. Tonight is a truly special honor because, not only do I represent myself, but also my many teammates and all the work and dedication they put into this program. When you are part of the team at Harvard, you are making a life-long commitment to this hockey program, but also, to all those players who dedicated time and energy into shaping this great program.
I believe I can speak for the hockey class of 1990 when I say we entered the program at a terrific time. The great leadership from the upperclassmen reinforced that there was certainly a Harvard way of doing things. Coming in as a freshman, I had the benefit of so many talented and accomplished players in the classes above me who taught me so much about winning at the collegiate level. I learned quickly, there was a higher level of discipline that one must adhere to when a player seeks to step to the next level. I learned that the level of commitment off the ice was as important as the commitment on the ice, the team came first and you prioritized and sacrificed as needed. I carry this commitment with me today and I will proudly carry it long into the future.
Our teams would not have been half as successful had my teammates not carried similar ideals. To a man, I believe each of my teammates acted as selfless individuals always realizing that the greater good of team success supplanted all the individual accomplishments. This is less common in today’s sport, only surfacing on rare occasion, but so engaging when it is realized. Why do some teams possess this quality? Typically, there is a consistent reason. Usually there is an outstanding leader, one guiding the process, someone who is able to see the potential of disparate parts and craft a winning combination. Coach Cleary was the best in this regard. Playing for Coach Cleary was truly a wonderful experience and remains an honor for me to proudly say I played for “Coach Cleary”. Why was it so great? In thinking back, quite simply, he let us play the game. Coach Cleary empowered his teams, allowing us to compete and win without shackling us with a cumbersome system. Coach believed in his guys, he believed in us as players but more importantly as men. He created an exciting environment, which fostered competition and winning, and each and everyday, he instilled in us enough confidence to make the right decisions at the right time and succeed. As an example, it was common to hear Coach speaking of an upcoming contest to reporters or the like and hear him tackle questions like “How will you defend a certain player or power play”. His answer was steadfast and consistent: “We’ll let them worry about us”. And he believed it. This philosophy I’m sure stemmed from his playing days, where as the best American born player ever – he was the focus of all other teams plan of attack. I am sure this shaped his coaching philosophy, which allowed us to play aggressively within our own system and take risks when the play dictated. In reflection, this philosophy is a great life lesson. In going about my business, day to day, I find myself trying to focus on the things I can control, pushing myself further without wasting energy on things that I cannot control. Coach Cleary, Coach Tomassoni and Coach Hampe assembled so many talented players over my 4 years at Harvard and I am truly thankful that they allowed my to be part of such a great group.
The success of Harvard athletics is not bound by the sport in which you participate but by the strength of Harvard community. The odds of consistently winning at the Division one level are challenging and the obstacles too high to think that your team can prevail alone. Our team’s success was strongly influenced by the unwavering commitment of others, whether it was Chet Stone and Artie Clifford, who day in and day out would have us ready to compete and take on our daily battles, or Dr. Boland and Dick Emerson, who seemed to be omnipresent and need to be thanked for their dedication and their numerous hours of services putting the pieces back together faster than anyone thought possible. This network also includes Jack Kirrane, who taught us so much about the game and served as a daily reminder of a consummate leader/champion, keeping an interested eye on our daily practices and games, while making sure our effort never waned. The support did not end there. Jack Reardon and Fran Toland were constant reminders of the level of commitment and support the university and athletic department were making in allowing us to compete at such a high level. Additionally, the constant reminders at home games and in daily student life, that our fellow student-athletes truly cared and took pride in our outcomes, promoted a great sense of camaraderie among many student-athletes. There was a silent commitment/support between the various varsity sports that leads me to think that this incremental energy was somehow beneficial to the successes our team had attained.
I am fortunate to have worn my Harvard jersey for 4 years and there is only one jersey I wore longer in my hockey career. The hockey tradition at Belmont Hill is strong and my development as a player was directly influenced by my hockey experience there. Belmont Hill has served as a constant theme in my Harvard experience and special thanks goes out to my coaches for taking an interest in me and guiding my development as both a person and hockey player. I had the pleasure of watching so many great Belmont Hill players during my 7-9th grade years and feel fortunate to have had so many great role models (many played at Harvard). I know they inspired me and pushed me to reach for higher goals. My development as a player was directly influenced by my hockey experience at Belmont Hill and I need to thank the coaching tandem of Coach Ken Martin and Coach Ed Gallagher. Coach Martin for his commitment in developing me as a young player and for preparing me to meet the challenges of Division One college hockey. Coach Martin showed me how to win the right way, through discipline and dedication. There were no shortcuts, no easy routes to success. Coach Martin demanded your best effort game-in and game-out and his teams typically played with a quiet confidence, a confidence his players could take well beyond the rink into many other facets of life. Additionally, I need to thank Coach Gallagher for his dedication as a tremendous teacher and educator of young men. Coach Gallagher spent long hours educating us on the value of commitment; commitment to oneself as a student and athlete, and more importantly, the commitment to the player sitting next to you in the locker room. Coach Gallagher taught all of us at an early age that you played for the name on the front of your jersey not the name on the back. Unfortunately, this great coaching tandem is no longer working together at Belmont Hill. But for those players that had the pleasure of playing for these men, their guidance and wisdom have not been forgotten.
I don’t skate much anymore, however, when the time comes to “lace them back up” to coach, I hope my style is reflective of all the great qualities that my coaches possessed. I was truly fortunate to have been in the presence of so many great teachers of the game, and I rely on their lessons every day and I am sure this will continue into the future. I can only hope that I will be able to effectively convey these lessons as well as the lessons were taught to me.
Finally, I must thank my family for everything they have done to get me this far in life. My family’s unwavering support has given me the strength to take on so many challenges, including the rigors of a 4-year college experience. They made many sacrifices to allow me, and my siblings, to take advantage of many opportunities they never had. In the face of many easier and less taxing decisions, they supported me chasing my dream of playing Division One College hockey in Boston, and like my uncles and many other local players had done, competing for a Beanpot Title. I realize, so many years later, that I have been substantially influenced by their values and generosity, so much more than I can express here. I am truly thankful for all they have done and I know that I will never be able to repay them for all these great opportunities but I will never forget the importance of their support. Additionally, I need to especially thank them for their constant support in attending all our home games in Section 21, usually with many other relatives in tow. For all those times they made the trek to watch us play on the road, I don’t know how you did it but your dedication did not go unnoticed and was greatly appreciated.
Tonight is a wonderful night for me, and my family and I can’t thank you enough for holding me in such high regard. I will always look back on my days here, wearing the #14 jersey, very fondly. I only hope that you can sense how honored you have made me feel tonight. I will always take tremendous pride in being an alumnus. I will always take tremendous pride in our rich hockey history and I will always take tremendous pride in being included in the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame.
Thank you all so much.