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Posts tagged ‘Colonials’

Homecoming 2013 Wrap-Up

WarnerHey Colonials!

If you weren’t able to make it to HOMECOMING 2013, you missed another great showing of proud alumni and students engaging and interacting with one another. In total we had over 900 alums, students, and friends attend one or more of our scheduled weekend events, including the Reunion Years Reception, where we welcomed alumni from the 3’s and 8’s. (Next year is your year, 4’s and 9’s. We hope to see you here!)

(Click HERE to see a special Homecoming THANK YOU video)

If you or any of your friends are interested in helping us organize a good time for you and your classmates at Homecoming 2014, please reach out to us at the alumni office. We’re looking for letter signers, phone callers, etc. These are just a few ways you can personally encourage your fellow classmates to get active and stay connected to RMU.

By the way, here are a few other upcoming events you might want to check out:

Events like these are a great way to connect with fellow alums, network, and meet new people. They’re also a lot of fun, too.

Hope to catch you at an RMU alumni event soon!

Warner Johnson
RMU Director of Alumni

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RMU Grad Working to Make NHL Dream Come True

Levine hockeyLast March when I interviewed then RMU senior and goaltending phenom Eric Levine ’13, he told me his dream was to one day play in the NHL. And now he’s one step closer to making that dream a reality.

This past summer Levine, a graduate of RMU’s psychology program, signed an amateur tryout contract with the American Hockey League’s Syracuse Crunch. The former Colonials goaltender, who had an average save percentage of .921 and a goals-against average of 2.89 at RMU, helped the Crunch reach the Calder Cup finals before eventually losing to the Grand Rapids Griffin. But his time with the team served as a valuable learning experience.

“My two months in Syracuse were extremely beneficial because I got a taste of what professional hockey was like,” he says. “Seeing how hard they prepared for practice and games taught me a lot. And being on the ice with such talented players really raised my level of play.”

While there, Levine got to work with Tampa Bay goalie coach Frantz Jean on a daily basis. “It was simply amazing. He taught me a lot about what it takes to be a professional goalie and the type of work you have to put into the little details of the game in order to be successful.”

Less than a week after his time with the Crunch ended, Levine received a call to attend the New York Rangers development camp. “I got the call Saturday night and flew out Sunday morning,” he says. “That’s how quickly things happen in professional hockey.” In New York he scrimmaged with the team for four straight days and even got a chance to work with goalie coach Benoit Allaire. “He showed me a few things about my game I needed to work on in order to make the jump from college to pro. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I think I did pretty well.”

After returning home to Chicago, Levine was promoted to assistant director of the Midwest Goalie School, overseeing their four camps that run for just over a month, five days a week, nine hours a day. “It’s a good thing I enjoy being at ice rinks,” he says, “because I spent an awful lot of time there.”

He was then invited to participate in training camp for the Nashville Predators. “That was a life-changing experience that taught me a lot about my game,” says Levine. “Any and every weakness you have as a goalie is exposed at the NHL level. They’re all so unbelievably talented. Even the so-called ‘fourth liners’ have skill and can shoot the puck harder than I have ever seen.”

While in Nashville, Levine was on a team with Predators’ goaltender Pekka Rinne. “Getting a chance to watch him and how he practices taught me a lot. He is easily the most talented and hardest working goalie I have been on the ice with, not to mention the nicest guy imaginable. He would spend time after practice answering my hundreds of questions about everything it takes to be an NHL goalie. He’s an example of what I can accomplish if I just put in the hard work and never quit on my dreams.”

Levine also had the opportunity to work with Nashville goalie coach Mitch Korn, who he admits was a little tough on him. But that’s a good thing. “Coach Korn knows how difficult it is to be an NHL goalie, and he was trying to acclimate me to that level. For that I am eternally grateful.”

Even though he didn’t sign a contract with Nashville, Levine says it was a life-changing experience that gave him a taste of what might be possible with a little determination and hard work.

“I learned that pro hockey is a business, one that is very tough to crack, especially as an undrafted goalie because with so few spots available. It’s a numbers game. But my agent and I are confident something will materialize soon.”

Written by Valentine J. Brkich

RMU Alum Earns Silver Medals at 2013 U.S. Paralympics

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ALUMNI PROFILE: Jason Evans ’02

Evans-WebResidence: Pittsburgh
Year of Graduation.: 2002
Major: Sport Management/Business Administration
Current position: Head Ice Hockey Coach, Chatham University Cougars

Tell us about your RMU experience:
I worked full-time during my college days, while playing hockey, and couldn’t have been supported more by faculty and staff. I enjoyed it enough that I brought both of my brothers to RMU – Justin ’06 (education) and Jesse ’10 (graphic design).

Why did you choose RMU?
I was looking at RMU and Pitt, but I decided the class sizes suited me better at RMU. The sport management program was also a heavy determining factor.

How long have you been into hockey?
I played locally and began coaching high school hockey in 1998. At RMU I played for the club team and later coached the ACHA Division III team (2004) and the ACHA Division I team (2005-10). There were a few coaches before me that lead the way. We had a great team and won three conference championships, four conference playoff championships, and enjoyed four trips to ACHA National Championship tournaments. We had a lot of great moments along the way, and I still think about them often. Interesting note: Our entire staff on the Cougars hockey team is comprised of Robert Morris alumni (Jon Hoffman ’08, assistant ice hockey coach; Jerry Hillman ’07, equipment manager), and we’re looking to add another recent RMU graduate to the 2013-14 staff.

Did you take part in any other activities/groups at RMU?
I didn’t leave much time to join other groups. But communication classes with Prof. Jim Vincent and management classes with Dr. John Clark were plenty entertaining.

An Interview with RMU Men’s Hockey Goaltender Eric Levine

Eric minding the net at the Three Rivers Classic

Eric minding the net at the Three Rivers Classic

During this year’s inaugural Three Rivers Classic at Consol Energy Center, RMU Colonials Men’s Ice Hockey goaltender Eric Levine, as they say in the hockey world, stood on his head.

Over the course of two days, Levine stopped 99 shots without allowing a goal, shutting out Penn State 6-0 and No. 5 Miami 1-0, and helped the Colonials bring home the tournament crown.

But this is just standard operating procedure for Levine. Since coming to RMU from Wheeling, Ill., in 2009, the senior psychology major has been like a brick wall for opposing teams. Over his first three years with the team, he boasted an average save percentage of .921 and a goals-against average of 2.89.

Levine was named to the Academic All-Atlantic Hockey team in both the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, and in his first collegiate win against Quinnipiac in October 2009, he set a new school record for saves in a game with 58.

On February 22 versus Canisius, Levine set a new RMU single-season win record in goal with win number 16.

Besides being president of RMU’s Student Psychology Honorary (Psi Chi), Levine is also the co-vice president of RMU’s Advertising Club; his roommate/teammate, Andrew Blazek, is the club’s president/founder.

How did you first get into hockey?
When I first moved into my house as a 3-year-old, the neighborhood kids all played street hockey. I really wanted to play with them, but they were older and said the only way I could play was if I played goalie. I would always come home crying because I got hit with a ball. My mom told me that if I didn’t want to play, I didn’t have to go back out. But I’d already be on my way back outside to play until the sun went down.

When I got into ice hockey, my first year I was a forward. Our team had a policy that every player had to play goalie since we didn’t have a full time one. The first time I played, I got a shutout and loved it so much I told the team I wanted to play the rest of the season. From there on out, I never played anything but goalie.

What is it that makes you excel in goal?
I think the biggest aspect of my game is the mental part. I put a lot of emphasis on being mentally tough. The other part is my love for the game and the position, so much so that no matter how much failure I have endured, I always continued working and getting better. For all athletes, particularly goalies, failure is something you will experience a lot. So the biggest factor that determines how far you go in the sport will be your ability to get back up and find a way to overcome adversity. There are always people who want to give you reasons why you won’t succeed, and for me, I’ve used those words to drive me to become the best I can possibly be.

What have you enjoyed best about your RMU experience?
Getting the chance to play with my teammates, some of whom I’ve been with for four years now. Sharing experiences here, not only with hockey, has been memorable. The other thing I love is being part of a class that has seen such a culture change with RMU hockey. When I was a freshmen, not many people outside the school even knew we had a hockey team. Over my four years, we have built a program that the city of Pittsburgh has taken a shine to. I feel we represent a small part of the tremendous amount of growth that Pittsburgh has seen over the years. A lot of the credit should go to Coach Schooley, who built the program for nothing and has been here since day one. He’s a tremendous promoter of the game and of our team, and a lot of the recognition has been because of his work off of the ice. He’s a key reason whey RMU will host the Frozen Four this April and bring RMU a lot of national recognition.

What would you like to do for a career post-hockey?
My goal has always been to play in the National Hockey League. I have always believed in the notion that dreams are meant to be pursued, and I am grateful for Robert Morris University and Coach Schooley for giving me the opportunity to play NCAA Division 1 hockey. I hope it leads to a pro career one day.

Have you received any pro offers yet?
I have talked to a few NHL teams, but my only focus right now is helping RMU capture an AHA Championship and a birth in our first NCAA tournament. The more success our team has, the more opportunities each player will have.

What advice can you give to younger players?
There are two things that have changed the way I view the game of hockey. The first is a teaching lesson for all aspiring goalies out there. Glenn Hall, arguably the greatest goalie to ever play the game; inventor of the butterfly, and holder of quite possibly the most impressive record in all of sports – 502 consecutive games played in the NHL – was once asked what is one most important skill that a goalie must possess? Quickness? Reading the play? Foot-work? Determination? His answer: “It’s not one thing; It’s everything.”

Jonathon Quick, the most recent Conn Smythe winner and Stanley Cup Champion, was once asked what makes him great. His answer: great teammates. I have a laundry list of reasons how every player on this team has directly made me a better goalie.

Hockey is a hard game, and being a goalie is a very demanding position with a lot of pressure. But the thing that keeps me working and that has allowed me to be successful is just having fun. It’s just a game, and any time I take off my equipment, good game or bad, I’m deeply thankful for the opportunity to play. I have more fun that anybody can imagine playing hockey.

Go Colonials!

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Interview by Valentine J. Brkich

This season the Colonials (18-12-2, 13-11-1 Atlantic Hockey Association) are in fifth place with two games left. Levine and his teammates can set a new season win record and, with help, earn a first-round bye in the conference playoffs with a weekend sweep of rival Mercyhurst and a split by Holy Cross or Connecticut. If the Colonials finish between fifth and eighth, they would start the playoffs on home ice March 8.

His Toughest Challenge – Former RMU Hockey Star Battles Cancer

Chris Kushneriuk

(Photo: Robert Morris University Athletics)

Playing hockey during most of his 25 years, Chris Kushneriuk ’11 has delivered and taken his share of hard hits on the ice. But nothing could have prepared him for the blow he received last year while preparing for his second season with the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors.

It was then when Kushneriuk learned that the abdominal pain he was experiencing wasn’t due to injury but rather an aggressive case of testicular cancer.

Kushneriuk, a native of Ottawa, is currently at the Indiana University Cancer Center receiving treatment that he hopes will save his life. Unfortunately, since he doesn’t have health insurance in the U.S., he must pay for his care out-of-pocket; the total medical bill is expected to be at least $250,000.

Kushneriuk has a large support team that is working hard to raise the money he needs for his medical care. Back home, friends and family are holding fundraisers and charitable auctions. His former Wheeling Nailers teammates are also raising money and have set up a website to enable the public to make donations and follow his progress. An Indianapolis charity has also set up Kushneriuk and his mother at an apartment near the cancer center.

Here at Robert Morris, Kushneriuk is getting support from groups like the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, which held a ping-pong tournament to raise money for his cause. His former teammates, led by men’s ice hockey head coach Derek Schooley, have also been selling wrist bands to raise funds. To date they’ve raised over $8,000. Schooley even visited his former star forward recently during a recruiting trip.

“Chris was a leader on and off the ice,” says Schooley. “His work ethic was second to none. He competed hard every day in the weight room, practice and was a big game player. You always knew that you were going to get his best effort. Besides being a very good hockey player, he was an excellent student and is a world-class person.”

Kushneriuk, who turns 26 on Christmas Eve, majored in business administration at RMU and was a student athlete of the year. He was also a three-year captain of the Colonials and was twice named the team’s “most inspirational player.”

“His attitude has been tremendous,” Schooley told uscho.com “He’s been positive and enthusiastic, just like he was when he played for us. He was a real battler and competitor and he’s not going to let this beat him”

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For more information on obtaining a wrist band to support Kushneriuk, please email Coach Schooley, at schooley@rmu.edu. To make a donation, visit chriskushneriuk.org. You can also follow Kushneriuk on Twitter: @StoneColdKush

Where Are They Now? — Ray Gensler ’07

Ray's "Faces of Success" profileAs senior associate in the Tangible Asset Valuation group of Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP (Deloitte FAS LLP), Ray Gensler’ 07 has traveled all over the country and even to Europe a few times, touring production facilities and talking to members of management in order to learn about their business and assets.

Not bad for the former Colonials defensive lineman, who had never ventured far from home before coming to Robert Morris University.

The knowledge and experiences I gained at Robert Morris University provided me with the stepping stones I needed to grow as a leader and to venture to places I’d never been before,” says Ray. “I am thankful for my accomplishments since graduation.”

Because of his accomplishments both in the classroom and on the football field, Ray was one of the students selected for RMU’s “Faces of Success” marketing campaign back in 2006. During his senior year, Ray, a manufacturing engineering major with a 3.91 GPA, earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honors and Northeast Conference Scholar-Athlete honors. On the football field, he led the NEC in sacks with 11, which tied the Robert Morris single-season record. Over the course of his career, he finished with 183 tackles, including 75 solo.

But Ray would probably say his most important accomplishment was landing a dream job with the Pittsburgh office of Deloitte FAS LLP, even before he graduated.

At Deloitte, Ray performs and coordinates real- and personal-property valuation consulting for a global array of clients. He also prepares value opinions related to acquisitions; impairment-based studies; merger and acquisition due diligence; tax planning; insurable value; bankruptcy and fresh start accounting; and reorganization purposes. He also assists the audit teams of Deloitte & Touche LLP as an internal fair value specialist, performing review work of third-party fair value estimates.

In 2009, Ray was promoted to senior associate within the same group, where he mentors junior staff (including associates and interns), has additional direct contact with the clients, and assists management with project management. He is also a licensed real-estate appraiser trainee in Pennsylvania and Michigan, and has been involved with several national initiatives within Deloitte FAS LLP, such as helping to develop and maintain the national M&E (machinery and equipment) model.

In June of 2008, Ray married his high school sweetheart, Katelyn, who works as a 7th-Grade reading teacher in the Bethel Park School District. They now live in Green Tree with their golden retriever, Shelby, and are currently expecting their first child in early July.

“I am very excited to be a father and to start this new chapter of my life,” says Ray.

Building on the education he received at RMU, Ray has taken several courses with the American Society of Appraisers and the Appraisal Institute, and he is currently on target to graduate with an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh this summer.

“Which will be just in time for me to start my fatherly duties,” he says.

by Valentine J. Brkich