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Standout hockey player, motivated volunteer, Benjamin A. Smith. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

Six to Remember: Benjamin A. Smith

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By Reid Oslin | Chronicle Staff
Published: May 12, 2010
Benjamin A. Smith

Avon, Conn.

Major: History; minor in Economics and Philosophy.

Notable activities:
Assistant captain and a top scorer for Boston College's 2010 NCAA Championship ice hockey team; headed up the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee's Help Educate Through Athletic Responsibility (HEAR) program that brings BC student-athletes into the classrooms of Boston public schools to speak about educational and personal goals and motivate children to achieve success.

Post-graduation plans: Signed a contract to play professional hockey for the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks.

Overview: ESPN's expert hockey analyst Barry Melrose termed Smith "the best player on the ice" during the Eagles' recent Frozen Four championship tournament sweep. He was a member of BC hockey squads that won 101 games and two national titles during his varsity career. His community service activities are equally impressive: in addition to the HEAR program, he has been involved in community outreach activities at Brighton's Oak Square YMCA, the Franciscan Hospital for Children, the Massachusetts Hospital School and the Food For Families program at the Commonwealth Tenants' Association in Allston-Brighton.

Q: How did you start playing hockey? 

My dad is actually a professor of music at the University of Hartford, and my oldest brother is a professional oboe player. But the younger children in the family are probably more "athletic types" and we all played sports growing up. My dad started us out playing hockey. My parents also instilled the importance of education in all of us. We always had to do our homework - even if they were driving us an hour-and-a-half to a practice somewhere, I had to sit in back with my flashlight doing my homework. Academics were always big for my family.

Q: What drew you to community service?
At BC, we have some great opportunities as student-athletes to do various types of service, but to me, a lot of it is about "giving back." You always hear about "men and women for others" - that gets instilled in you here, and that is something that has really rubbed off on me. I am very thankful for that. An element of spirituality has come into my life; I'm not really a religious person, but BC has led me to think about those kinds of things.

Q: What are your favorite BC memories?

Obviously, the two national championships [2008 and 2010] are right up there. But it's also the small things, the time with your friends - eating lunch in the Hillside CafŽ or talking in the dorms - that are special to me. It's being in a community where people care about each other. Everyone seems to love BC. Having had that type of community feeling is something that I definitely am going to miss.

Q: Who have been your most influential mentors at BC?
Two people readily come to mind: Coach [Jerry] York and Fr. Tony Penna (Director of Campus Ministry).

Coach York is a great hockey coach, but that is really the smallest part of who he is. He cares so much about all of his players - how they are doing in school and what kind of people they are. He's definitely a person I look up to.

Fr. Penna has been a mentor to me since day one here. I meet with him weekly. He's the kind of person who asks questions like "What are you doing with your life?" or "What are you thinking about this?" He asks you the questions that no one else really does. He has created a lot of thinking and thoughts in my mind that I never would have considered before.

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