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Ryan Delaney: Hockey, the Herder, and Life in Education

April 2, 2013

For most who come through the Faculty of Education, involvement in sports comes in concert with time in the classroom. Be it recreationally, or as part of varsity athletics with the Sea-hawks, student athletes are a common sight in the GA Hickman building.

In the case of Ryan Delaney, however, sports are every bit the way of life that his pursuit of an Education degree is.

Delaney, a veteran forward for the Conception Bay CeeBee Stars, recently hoisted the Herder Memorial trophy, handed out to the top senior hockey team in the province. His CeeBees won the championship series 4-0, freeing him up just in time for exam season.

"We had a run there, we made it seven years in a row to the Herder Final. We [had] guys who haven't been there in 10 or 11 years, guys who haven't been part of it at all. It puts it in perspective how good it's been to be part of the CeeBees over the past decade," he said.

One half of a talented brother tandem alongside Keith, a teacher at Amalgamated Academy, Delaney has been a mainstay in the senior ranks since returning from playing junior in Ontario almost ten years ago.

While it was Keith who was drafted by the NHL's Florida Panthers, it's been as a pair that they've blossomed in front of their hometown fans. Ryan was named playoff MVP after their run this spring.

"A lot of his students follow the CeeBees, so as soon as he gets in the classroom on Monday morning the hands are up asking about the games the weekend. They're so engaged and so enthusiastic about the game and how life is on the road," Delaney said.

Ryan has spent nearly his entire career playing for the CeeBees, save for one year in Grand Falls. He said he enjoyed the experience, but he knew where his heart was and what it meant to play on the Avalon.

"[Keith and I] left, not on bad terms or anything, we just wanted a change. You get put in the same situation over and over, and it's fun winning, but we were in the Herder and lost a couple of times. It was two different leagues, the East Coast and the West Coast, and the West Coast was allowed to bring in [players from the mainland] and everything. It was frustrating, the East Coast teams couldn't compete," Delaney said.

"I wanted to go try out west before my career was over anyway and that year my brother said he'd go too. It was no hard feelings when we left and the CeeBees organization is so close, we're all friends. It was great that everyone welcomed us with open arms when we came back."

Now, with a considerable background in both information technology and petroleum engineering, his focus has turned to enjoying life on the ice and preparing for life in the classroom. A career in teaching was something he'd always considered, but it wasn't until he began bouncing around in the oil industry that he realized just how much it appealed to him.

"I worked offshore here in Newfoundland for three years, travelled a bit. Hockey's a big part of my life though, and the oil industry didn't allow for that as much. You can't commit to a team or anything.

"[Keith] was teaching and he'd come home talking about his day at work. Teaching was something I always wanted to do, even when I was in high school. I don't know why I didn't pursue it first when I came home from Ontario."

With only a couple of semesters left before he finishes his degree in primary/elementary education, one of which will be an internship in the Fall, Delaney feels like he's hitting his stride. He plans on heading to St. Pierre to finish up a French minor, and then taking on the world of teaching – a place he finds easy to compare to the goings on of the rink.

"Any team sport you play, there's always a connection between that and teaching. Teaching, you have your class of 20 or 25 students. Hockey, you've got your team of 20 or 25 guys. I find that the most successful classes are the ones with structure and rules," Delaney said of the common ground between the two.

"As a hockey player you have to learn the how to obey the rules, learn how to communicate with each other. You listen to the coach, you learn from him. As a teacher, your students are looking to you to learn from you. They're like your players, looking to us for instruction in their day-to-day activities. You have that connection there."

It's a connection Delaney hopes to foster as he continues on in both hockey, and in the classroom.