This article appeared on Hockeyjournal.com on May 5, 2008, and was written by Noah Sharfman.
When analyzing the performance of a player, we often get caught up in statistics and on-ice production while negating to recognize a players excellence and selflessness both on and off the ice.
Army team captain Chase Podsiad was named the 2008 Derek Hines Award winner.
Recognizing his team-first attitude and his dedication as a leader, Podsiad followed in the footsteps of Derek Hines (Newburyport, Mass.) for whom the award is named.
“It’s obliviously a great honor to win an award named after him,” Podsiad said of Hines. “Derek made the biggest sacrifice possible. He served the United State overseas and I can’t say enough about that.”
Hines, a 2003 West Point graduate, played four seasons at Army and served as team captain his senior year. After graduating, Hines served his country in Afghanistan and was killed in service on Sept. 1, 2005.
The Hines award is given to a player who demonstrates exemplary sportsmanship, competitiveness, intelligence, and an unmatched work ethic both on and off the ice. Nominees from all six college hockey conferences are considered for the award.
“I never got to meet Derek, but I heard a lot about him from older guys,” Podsiad said. “I know that Derek always looked out for the younger guys on the team and I tried to do the same. This season our team had great senior leadership and everyone knew their role and fit into them very well. I was able to help the younger guys out because of our veteran team.”
“Hines had a way, the same way Chase does, of looking out for the other guys on the team,” Army head coach Brian Riley said.
“Both guys wanted to make sure that their teammates were taken care of before they were. Hines was the same way when he left (the Academy) as an officer and I know that Chase will follow in his footsteps being a leader that will be very caring of his soldiers.”
As a leader, Podsiad successfully blended his team into a cohesive unit the relied both on the contributions of younger guys and veterans.
“This season was the closest team I have every played on,” said Podsiad, who helped Army win its first-ever regular-season Atlantic Hockey title. “I would like to say from a hockey standpoint that the season was a great success but you can’t be satisfied when you don’t win in the playoffs. In terms of our team though, we had a great year. The group of guys I got to play with were awesome. They made our season a success no matter the outcome.”
“Good leaders really let their teammates know they care for them as people first,” Riley said. “Chase did a tremendous job of that. He never forgot what it was like to be a freshman and he really helped the younger guys out with their transitions.”
Both Hines and Podsiad put the success of the team ahead of their own. During his senior season, Podsiad led by example. At the start of the season, Podsiad showed complete dedication to the team when he switched positions in order to fill a need the team had.
“It tells you that he is a talented player,” Riley said of Podsiad’s position change. “But more importantly, in his heart he would have rather played defense, but when we moved him he never complained, realizing that it was in the best interest of the team.”
Podsiad, like Hines, was a fan favorite while playing at Army. But there are greater similarities that qualified Podsiad to win the award named after Hines.
“I can’t hear enough about Derek,” Podsiad said. “Everyday I meet someone new who knew Derek and they tell me how much I am like him, and that brings a smile to my face. I just hope that in the future I can continue to embody the characteristics that Derek did.”
Like Hines, Podsiad plans on serving his country after his college hockey career is over.
“After this school year is over, I’m going to stay with the team as a graduate assistant so I can help the new young guys transition into the team,” Podsiad said. “I’m going to be with the team until January which is when I start my military training.”
“Next year we are going to be a very young team and having Chase around to help the young guys transition will be a boost for them and our coaching staff,” Riley said.
Podsiad, like Hines did, will go through six months of military training before reporting to his assigned unit within the Armed Forces.