Hall of Fame Speech by Patrick Rissmiller ’97

Note: Patrick Rissmiller ’97 was inducted into the Williston Northampton School’s Athletic Hall of Fame during Reunion celebrations on June 8, 2013.

Good evening and thank you.

It is great to be back on the Williston campus this weekend – this brings back so many great memories. I’d like to start by congratulating all the other inductees tonight for this wonderful honor. I am sure that they are all just as thrilled as I am!

I’d like to thank the Williston Northampton School for a great day and event. Thank you, Chris, my brother, and Class of 1995, for your time in gathering all of the information and nominating me for this honor, as well as coming here to be my presenter. I appreciate all of your help and support.

Thanks go to Jeff Pilgrim, for all his work putting the hall of fame together as well as setting up this great event. I’m sure everyone here echoes my thanks to Jeff for his time and effort with this event. I also need to thank all of my teammates as well as my soccer, hockey, and lacrosse coaches. The friendships I developed here with many of my classmates and teammates are ones that continue today – I had the privilege of going to school with some very talented and fun people.

On the coaching, teaching and mentoring front, Mike Fay and Toby Gibbons not only were my hockey coaches, but also my dorm parents, teachers, friends, and even sometimes parents – especially when we found trouble. Mike and Toby provided much advice and instruction during hockey season as well as in every day life as dorm parents and teachers.—Each helped me a great deal in my two years not only on the fields and ice, but more importantly, helped me develop as a person.

Thank you to all of my brothers and sisters, David, Julia, Chris, Scott, Class of 1999, Delia, Kyle, and Bernie as well as my parents. Thank you Mom and Dad for allowing me to attend such a great place here at Williston. Though my dad is no longer with us, I know how thrilled he would be for me to accept this honor!

It was not an easy decision to leave home to attend boarding school, but thankfully, my parents knew this would be the best thing for me. Without their support and guidance this would not have been possible. Thank you. Lastly, thank you to my wife Michelle and daughter Ellie who have both put up with the nomadic world of pro hockey as we crisscross the nation so I can continue to live my dream.

When I look back at my time at Williston, I have many great memories and experiences. Leaving home to attend boarding school was a little scary and nerve wracking at first. Thankfully, my brother Chris had taken a post-graduate year here before me and I remember him speaking highly of Williston. I remember him telling me I would love it because of the great friendships you develop in such a close knit environment. And the rink was always open so I could even go play hockey during my free time. He also spoke highly of the teachers and coaches at Williston – both students and teachers look after each other, and it is a small community within the larger Easthampton community. I didn’t quite grasp what he discussed, but within days I knew exactly what he meant.

I recall my mother dropping me off here at Williston and nervously and anxiously moving into Hathaway House. I wondered if I made the right decision to move away from home as I did not know a single person or what was in store for me. Things quickly changed. Shortly after moving in, I was on the soccer field for preseason and meeting teammates and eating in the dining hall with people who would quickly become good friends. Lifelong friends really. I had friends within minutes and I quickly realized what Chris was talking about – Williston would be a great place for me.

The community here at Williston is what makes it so unique and special. My parents sent three of their sons to school here – so our family thinks very highly of the school and community here. Having teachers, coaches and administrators living amongst the students as dorm parents creates a very supportive and structured environment – one which suited me very well during my time here. It’s truly a great community, with great people and leaders.

A great example is meeting Mr. Fay, the first person I met here. He ended up being my dorm parent, my hockey coach, and friend. Just this past season, I played a game in Springfield with the Worcester Sharks and Mike stopped by after the game with his sons. It was like we saw each other yesterday, just another example of the Williston community and how it extends beyond the years you attend here.

Again, thank you to everyone who made my experience here at Williston so memorable…They were wonderful years, and I’m thrilled to return here this weekend. I am truly honored to be a member of Williston’s Hall of Fame. Thank you.

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