UB Hockey Team Became a Family for Donor to UB Athletics
Hockey was the newest name of the game at the University at Buffalo when Burt H. Rubin, BA '74, arrived as a student. UB had elevated hockey from a club to a varsity sport in 1969, and Rubin served the team as a manager, trainer and assistant coach under Edward Wright, the university's first fulltime professional hockey head coach.
The hockey team of that era was very competitive, Rubin says, and faced "a number of Division I programs that were, and still are, recognized as the elite of college hockey," including Ohio State, St. Lawrence, Clarkson and Vermont. As a member of the Mid-American conference, UB also played strong hockey schools: Bowling Green and Western Michigan.
Being a part of the UB hockey team made a huge difference in the life of the solitary student from Queens, New York.
"When I showed up (at UB) at 17, I didn't know anyone," Rubin recalls. "I got involved with the hockey team and became part of a family, which we still are today, 40 years later."
The experience inspired Rubin to pledge a $1.5 million gift in his will (known as a bequest) to UB Athletics—the largest planned gift in the program's history.
"Sports, no matter the level, teaches kids the larger lessons of life, lessons that will help them more than they know following their graduation," Rubin says. "The way the UB athletics program has turned around, the regional and national exposure it has garnered, that has given me immense pride. The thought of helping future generations of UB students share the opportunity I was given was something I really wanted to do."
Since graduation, Rubin has kept in touch with several UB hockey alumni, who reunite regularly to watch not hockey, but football.
"A number of UB hockey alums have made it a point to get together every year at Super Bowl time to visit and stay connected. We've done that for over 35 years," Rubin says. "It gives all of us an opportunity to visit with Coach Wright, who had a positive influence on us as students and athletes. This has transformed into a lifelong friendship with Ed for many of us."
They also get together to attend UB homecoming weekends.
"Coach Wright, me and a couple other local UB hockey alums started another annual ritual by having a hockey reunion every UB homecoming weekend," Rubin says. "It began four or five years ago with a handful of us, and has now grown to where we have 40-50 former hockey players and their families attend. It's a great weekend to return to campus, visit, and watch a UB football game."
These reunions also spurred Rubin's pledged gift.
"Our reconnecting as friends and teammates at the past few homecomings was a factor for sure, and made me realize how much I benefitted by coming to UB. It has afforded me some great friends, it prepared me for my professional life after college, and it was important to me to show my appreciation by giving back to this school," Rubin says.
Rubin earned his bachelor's degree in anthropology and went on to a successful career as a chiropractic orthopedist in Hampton, Virginia. While he wishes UB still had a hockey program, he's happy to have pledged a gift that will benefit all UB student athletes. He only hopes that others will give to UB as he has.
"Having talked with UB Athletic Director Allen Greene, I understand that there are priorities that need to be addressed for the overall program at this time, and I am very comfortable that Allen and the athletics program will make good decisions with my gift," Rubin says. "I also hope that it might motivate others to consider giving back."
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